The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said this in a speech delivered at the stakeholders’ forum organised by the Investments and Securities Tribunal to mark its 10 years anniversary in Abuja on Thursday.
At the forum, the Chairman, IST, Dr. Ngozi Chianakwalam, also stated that the tribunal had, in its 10 years of existence, settled 256 cases with a financial value of N351.9bn.
Okonjo-Iweala said with a growth rate of more than six per cent per annum, Nigeria had become one of the top 20 destinations in the world for Foreign Direct Investment, adding that the nation attracted $8.9bn in FDI in 2012.
She said, “The government has been growing the non-oil sector by creating the right environment to attract investments in the sector.
“The power sector has just completed the first phase of its privatisation process with the bulk of the funding for the purchases coming from the banks. The government earned about $2.5bn from a privatisation that many thought would never happen.
“A second phase of power privatisation involving the NIPP assets is estimated to bring about $3.2bn into government coffers. We have similar investments in the agricultural sector and the real estate market.”
The minister said with a market capitalisation goal of $1bn, the Nigerian Stock Exchange continued to encourage foreign and local investors to list their companies on the Exchange for broader reach.
According to the minister, the establishment of the IST in 2003 has been instrumental to infusing the much needed confidence in the nation’s securities market.
She said Nigeria had to be recognised for being the only capital market in sub-Sahara Africa that combined both regulatory and formal adjudicatory functions.
Okonjo-Iweala praised the tribunal for its work in stabilising the securities market in the past 10 years, but added that its processes needed to be simplified to accommodate less privileged and illiterate investors.
“Getting it right with the small investors will certainly boost the confidence of bigger and more sophisticated investors coming before the tribunal,” she said.
In a welcome address, the IST chairman bemoaned the lack of funds for the effective operation of the tribunal.
She called for the funding of the tribunal through fees paid form market transactions as other agencies in the capital market, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Central Securities Clearing System.
“Though enhanced budgetary allocation will, in the interim, serve to obviate the funding constraints of the tribunal, it is desirable that a more lasting and permanent solution is sought,” Chianakwalam said.
The Chairman, SEC, Dr. Suleiman Ndanusa, praised the work of the IST in the past 10 years, adding that it needed to be expanded to include jurisdiction in the entire financial services industry.
Information from Punch was used in this report.