The Minister of State for Finance, Alhaji Yerima Ngama, Thurs day said the federal government was working on several proposals aimed at boosting the nation's stock market and enhancing investor confidence.
Noting that the growth of the equities market was critical for the country's economic advancement, he said the government was committed to the development of the capital market.
Speaking in Abuja at the opening of the third annual capital market retreat themed: " Actualising Nigeria's Economic Potential through a World Class Capital Market," Ngama also disclosed that the government was more than willing to get the telecommunication companies operating in the country to be quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, adding that it needed to adopt specific strategies to make that happen.
He noted that the issue of government support for the capital market was not something that should be taken for granted.
On his part, the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Board, Alhaji Suleiman Ndanusa also disclosed that one of the unresolved challenges in the industry remained the issue of unclaimed dividends whose figure he put between N40 billion and N60 billion.
The retreat aims to address this as well as other issues.
Meanwhile, the minister said although the equities market had recorded a growth of about 38.8 per cent this year, making it one of the 10 top performing markets in the world, there was need to explore the untapped market by bringing more companies to list on the market.
He said:" If we measure our performance in that regard, we find that we are not doing well. The Nigerian public needs to be educated- very few people participate in the capital market, and in fact, there is a lot of exclusion in the entire financial market. So what are we doing in the capital market to bring about inclusion?"
Continuing, he said: "Most of our companies today are doing very well-the real sector and we still have a lot of them to attract to the capital market. It is therefore a challenge that we should not just measure our performance base on the growth that we know will always happen, but based on how we broaden the market. This is necessary because if you look at how many big companies that have been listed, you find that the performance can improve significantly."
Ngama also argued that given that most of the unclaimed dividends in quoted companies belonged to small investors, some of whom may never be traced, such funds could be utilised to promote such category of investors.
According to him: "With that, you do not have any class discrimination but if you take the money that belong to the very low level investors and you use it for the benefit of very big investors, then you are doing class discrimination" adding that "all we need now is confidence building because the fact on ground support our market as even stronger than it is portrayed today."
He added: "There is lot of investment opportunity in infrastructure and it is therefore left to us to come together to see how we can come together and raise funds for this purpose.
"For instance, the newly privatised Gencos and Discos, they are taking over companies without liabilities, which is quite good and unmatched in Africa. So the demand is there, it is the supply that is needed and for you to get the supply, we need funding, so we are funding businesses that have already made market and it is not going to be difficult to convince anybody to bring out money in order to fund the Gencos and Discos."
Continuing, he said:"We in government are planning a forum in early February in Presidential Villa where we will bring the Gencos and Discos before the multilateral institutions to tell their story, aspirations, to explain the opportunities their businesses present and why they need assistance, especially funding.
"And we are inviting the capital market operators. But don't expect them to list before they get the money, try to have funds that people can invest in and you guarantee them certain return. I think that with so doing, we will assist them. "