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21.11.2007 Business & Finance

Need to review securities industry law - Dr Sowa


Dr Nii Kwaku Sowa, Acting Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission, has said sections of the law that established the Commission, especially the section mandating it to act on instructions from the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, should be expunged.

Section 140 of the Securities Industry Law (PNDC Law 333), that established the Commission, states that "The Secretary of (Finance) may give to the Commission directions of a general or specific character as to the exercise of the Commission's functions; and it shall be the duty of the Commission to give effect to any such directives."

Speaking on the Topic: "Improving the Legal and Regulatory Framework of the Financial Services Sector: A Case for an Independent Financial Regulator," at the 11th National Banking Conference, Dr Sowa said the review was not for political expediency but to bring to bear international best practices in regulation of the country's financial sector.

"This aspect of the law and other sections need to be removed to bring the Commission's regulatory functions in line with international best practices and also send the right signals to the investor community that the country is ripe for investment."

Dr Sowa said in view of the weak nature of the law, the Securities Exchange Commission had been put in category 'B' an indication that much more needed to be done to move it into the same bracket with countries, which had history of best practices.

He said the case for strong checks and balances had become even more urgent now in view of the rapid innovations taking place within the financial sector in order to ensure that market participants played by the rules and also to prevent such changes leading to market failure.

Dr Sowa called for a universal regulatory agency, which would be a one-stop shop for dealing with matters of financial regulation as the practice pertaining in most parts of the world.

He said the fragmented system in place now, where different agencies exercised regulatory authority over the financial sector, did not augur well for the development of an integrated financial sector.

Professor George Gyan-Baffour, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said government's strategy was to strengthen regulatory institutions to adapt to the dynamism in both local and international financial markets, improve corporate governance and develop the human resource base required for a world class financial sector.

"We need to be able to effectively manage the transition of our financial sector to achieve emerging market status," he said, indicating that there would be continuous reforms in the financial sector taking into account development and challenges in the international market.

Mr Isaac Osei, Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board, asked banks in the country to address the low capital base in order to expand to meet future demands of corporate entities.

The Conference is under the theme: "[email protected]: The Achievements, Challenges and Vision of the Financial Services Sector for the next 50 years."