Monday, February 24, 2020 /05:24PM / By NSE / Header Image Credit: NSE
1. Dr. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed - Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning
2. Dr. Sarah Alade - Special Adviser to the President on Finance and Economy
3. Ms. Mary Uduk - Acting Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission
I must also acknowledge:
4. The President of the National Council of the Nigerian Stock Exchange - Otunba Abimbola Ogunbanjo
5. Other Members of the National Council of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
6. Members of the Executive Committee, Heads of Department and Staff of The Nigerian Stock Exchange
7. CEOs of our Dealing Member Firms and our Listed Companies here present.
8. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is with great pleasure that I welcome the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning - Dr. Zainab Ahmed to The Exchange. We are indeed delighted and honored to host you and your delegation to this event, which we have themed "A DAY AT THE NSE". This is one in a series of the NSE's renewed government relations, where key government stakeholders interact with the capital market community on important issues that affect both parties in terms of Nigeria's economic management and policy reforms, ease of doing business environment, foreign and local investment attractiveness, capital market and ultimately economic growth and development.
In the area of economic management and reforms, I must once again congratulate the Honourable Minister and her team for effective coordination of the finance, budget and national planning portfolios, working closely with other arms of government especially the National Assembly, to achieve:
1) Return to the January - December Budget Cycle, which raises the chances of higher budget implementation; as well as
2) The signing into law and subsequent implementation of the Finance Act 2019, which contains incentivizing clauses for investment in the capital markets.
I also recall the Minister's appearances at the UK Africa Investment Summit and the World Economic Forum held earlier in January, which were highly successful investor meetings that delivered significant investor commitments and benefits for Nigeria.
While these are positive signals, there are still mixed perceptions of the overall growth trajectory of the Nigerian economy. The recently released preliminary findings by the IMF on the health of the economy, after the Article IV Consultations states that:
I must balance the IMF's comments with Nigeria's GDP numbers that were released just this morning by the National Bureau of Statistics reporting a Q4 2019 GDP growth performance of 2.55%, which is the highest quarterly growth since the recession in 2016 and culminating in a full year 2019 growth rate of 2.27%.
Putting this side by side our annual population growth rate of about 3%, the message still remains that we have our work cut out for us as a nation and the economy must grow at over 8% - 10%; and control inflation to single digit rates, if we must enjoy robust real per capita income growth.
This is not a short-term task but a long-term one and we look forward to the sequel to the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) to address this existential economic threat of a sustained slow growth. Suffice it to say that the government's fiscal and monetary reforms over the past 2 months have shown some intent at tackling the nation's challenges. In particular, we note the clauses in the Finance Act 2019 and how they better recognize the income generating status of micro, small and medium scale enterprises - thereby taxing them appropriately.
Honourable Minister, over the past 2 months also the Nigerian Stock Exchange has been in the news as we turn a page in the history of this Sixty-year old institution into a technologically and more commercially-driven multi-asset Exchange hub ready to support Africa's largest economy into the era of the 4th industrial revolution.
First, the NSE All Share Index outperformed Exchanges globally, with a return of 7.5% ytd in January 2020. The Exchange is still posting positive returns of 2.04% ytd as at Friday.
Second, we recently launched the NSE Growth Board to encourage companies particularly SMEs with high growth potential to seize the opportunity of raising long term capital and promote liquidity in the trading of their shares. The Board presents an avenue for these companies in their growth phase to leverage the NSE's platform and varied products and services to achieve their long-term business objectives.
The Board is designed to offer relaxed entry criteria as well as less stringent ongoing listing requirements and allows for greater accessibility to capital flows, global visibility, and credibility through corporate disclosures.
Third, our journey to becoming a demutualized entity is in its final stages, with a Court-Ordered Meeting and an Extraordinary General Meeting slated for March 2020. As we transform operationally and institutionally, we are confident in becoming even better positioned to support the government in raising the right-sized and long-term developmental capital required for financing its economic objectives.
Apart from supporting capital raising efforts of government through innovative products such as the Green Bonds (and it is important to mention that Nigeria is the first country in Africa to issue Green Bonds); the NSE has also developed a framework that supports the issuance, listing and trading of tax credits; in order to complement the Road infrastructure development and refurbishment investment scheme.
We are equally positioned to unlock significant investment value for the nation through the listing of public utilities and state-owned enterprises, as well as promote the knowledge economy in terms of public sector capacity building through our technology-based learning management system - the NSE X-Academy.
Finally, through our Government Relations activities we will continue to partner and engage with the government to advocate for policies that deliver an enabling business environment for the Nigerian Capital Market and the economy at large.
Once again we welcome you Honourable Minister and your delegation. I would now invite you to deliver your speech.