CBN group working to transform Nigeria’s financial services sector

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Financial System Strategy 2020 High Legal Working Group has met in Kaduna to fine tune eight bills to be forwarded to the National Assembly, to transform Nigeria’s financial services sector.

The the four-day retreat, which opened on Thursday in Kaduna to review the eight bills, is being chaired by the Director-General, Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha.

According to her, the passage of the bills into law would fast track the nation’s financial system and enhance the realization of the country’s vision programmes including the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

She added that the passage of the bills would keep Nigeria on track in becoming among the best 20 economies in the world.

According to her, it will  ensure that Nigeria remains a jurisdiction of choice for local and foreign investors .

Oniha stressed that the Federal Government has so far demonstrated a strong commitment to economic growth.

One of the ingredients necessary for achieving this laudable goal, is a robust and stable financial services sector which provides a wide range of products and services.“

She stressed that the overall target was to have large number of diverse operators working with efficient infrastructure and protected through regulations and legislation.

It is within this context, that the strategic role of the Financial System Strategy (FSS2020) should be viewed.”

The D-G said: “There are a total of eight Bills which cover several aspects of the financial services sector.

“The Bills are: Nigeria International Financial Centre Bill, Nigeria Financial Ombudsman Bill, Factoring Assignments (Establishment etc.) Bill 2015, Small and Medium Enterprises Agency Amendment and Other Related Matters Bill.

“Others include: Securitization and Issuance of Asset Backed Securities Bill, National Payment Systems Management Bill 2015, The Nigerian Independent Warehouse Regulatory Agency Bill and The Mortgage Institutions and Allied Matters Bill.

“You will agree with me that these Bills have the potential to transform Nigeria’s financial services sector.

The official said that FSS2020 was formally launched in 2007 to coordinate the implementation of transformational programmes and strategic initiatives that would facilitate Nigeria’s emergence as one of the top 20 economies in the world.

She stressed that the retreat was an opportunity to undertake holistic and time-relevant review of the Bills and thereafter resume dialogue with the National Assembly for their quick passage.

Our assignment at this retreat is to review the Bills with two main objectives in mind: to reflect current realities (needs, gaps) and opportunities obtainable in Nigeria’s financial system, and, are in harmony and well aligned with one another.

“Some work has been done already in this regard and I would like to thank members of the Working Group who devoted their time and resources to bring us to the level where we can collectively review the updated Bills.

“The Retreat is of strategic importance to the broad objectives of the FSS2020, because laws not only enable new products or services, processes and procedures, they also give comfort and security to operators,“ she said.

The chairperson noted that for Nigeria to become a major financial center that will attract international operators and encourage the emergence of strong local players, the country’s laws must be up to international standard.

Aniha assured that the final draft would address the needs of operators and capture the practices and experiences of more advanced market-based economies.

“It would also take into account the need to stimulate the growth of sectors of the economy such as mortgages, insurance and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.”

She appealed to the participants to remain the catalysts through which positive change is effected in Nigeria’s financial services sector.

“The responsibility that has been given to this Committee is enormous and our membership of the Committee shows a high level of confidence by the FSS2020.

“ It therefore, behoves on us as individuals and as a Committee to live up to the expectation of the FSS2020.

“In this regard, I wish to implore each one of you to consider this as an opportunity to impact the economy positively through the medium of the financial services sector.

“I therefore look forward with great anticipation, to the outcome of this retreat which will enable us to move to an even more critical stage; the presentation of the Bills to the National Assembly.

She commended the CBN for its foresight in creating the FSS2020 and other implementing institutions and private sector operators who had keyed into the Vision and had collaborated to actualize it.

Earlier, the Director of FSS, Mr Muhammed Dabai-Suleyman, said the FSS2020 had  lived up to its mandate of advancing Nigeria’s profile  as a leading international financial services destination as well as shaping the Nation’s financial landscape.

Dabai-Suleyman expressed satisfaction with the commitment of government, the National Assembly, the regulator and other stakeholders through collective responses to place the country among the top 20 economies of the world by the year 2020.

These may involve the singular activity of effectively training personnel by local service providers to attain international standards and facilitate Nigeria’s membership of community of best practices in the global financial ecosystem.

The transformation programmes and initiatives also extend to high level strategic development planning which result in international promotional efforts designed to market Nigeria and its financial products to the global financial community.

The director appreciated all FSS2020 stakeholders for their commitment to enhancing Nigeria’s brand of financial services at both domestic and international levels.

On the retreat, with the theme “Shaping the Financial Landscape of Nigeria”, he said the participants  would review, update and modernize the eight Bills some of which have been pending before the National Assembly since 2008.

“Our engagement with the National Assembly will be to facilitate enactment of legislation that addresses the specific requirements of developing and growing Nigeria’s financial system.

“Our formula for success must include insisting that our service providers are able to meet regulatory obligations and also stay competitive in a highly aggressive commercial environment.

“ FSS2020 will continue its strategy of taking Nigeria to the international investor,“ Dabai-Suleyman said.

The group, drawn from various players in the economy is expected to break into sessions to deliberate on each of the bills in the next four days.

Ime N