This is a transcript of the President’s remarks at the NSE
We have the biggest Gross Domestic Product on the continent, a GDP of about $510bn. We believe that for that kind of GDP, what we earn as a government from tax is supposed to be much higher than what we are earning. Even today on the floor (of the Exchange) the brokers raised an issue that if our GDP is the biggest on the continent, why is it that our capital market is not also the biggest?
To give a scenario, America has the biggest GDP in the world and its capital market is also the biggest, South Africa when they were number one on the continent, their capital market was also number one. So, why is it that today our GDP is number one and our capital market is second or third?
Something is wrong somewhere. I believe very clearly that the government and you need to work together to look at these areas. There are leakages, for example, some of the companies that are operating in this country are not really disclosing what they are supposed to disclose, companies that are supposed to be listed on the stock market are not listed so their operations are not as transparent as they should be.
Let me assure you that this is an area that we need to collectively look into.
You wanted to know whether we will go all out to privatize our refineries, what will we do in terms of asking telecoms companies to list and, of course, the power companies – the GENCOS and the DISCOS, what are we doing about that?
These are areas we have actually been working on, I remember when we were in South Africa on a state visit, MTN paid a courtesy call on me and one of the key things that we raised – myself and Ngozi (Okonjo-Iweala) the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, was the need for them to list. We are working very hard to make sure that companies that are supposed to list, list. That is the only way Nigerians can participate in some of these companies. And in the next four years we will look at it; it is a very delicate area. This government does not want to do something that will injure the private sector.
That is why even our economic management team brings key players in the private sector to work with government. We bring the regulators, the private sector, and, of course, those of us who are implementers – the ministers – to look at things after we agree then we pass them on to the implementation committee to look at again how they can be implemented in such a way that will not affect Nigerians.
I believe that the power companies as they grow bigger they will list, and government may come up with guidelines for that, but I cannot announce anything now because it is only proper for a government to first of all study something with technical experts before you make technical pronouncements.