Emefiele: Financial Ombudsman Bill to Be Re-submitted to National Assembly


Obinna Chima

As part of efforts to ensure that the country meets its Financial System Strategy 2020 (FSS 2020), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele thursday said the bill for the establishment of financial consumer ombudsman would be re-submitted to the National Assembly.

The bill, if passed into law, is expected to address the challenges of protection of consumers of financial services as well as protect the integrity of the financial system.

Emefiele, also stressed the need for increased collaboration among government agencies and other institutions involved in the FSS 2020.

This, he said was necessary to move the country from about 50 per cent success in financial inclusion presently, to 80 per cent in the next three years.

Emefiele made these remarks in an address he delivered at the 10th anniversary strategic review meeting on the FSS 2020 held in Lagos.

“FSS 2020 will be resubmitting to the National Assembly a Bill for establishment of specific financial consumer ombudsman to address the challenges of protection of consumers of financial services as well as the protection of the integrity of the financial system,” he explained.

The FSS 2020 was conceptualised in 2006 by the CBN, in collaboration with other key financial sector regulators to fast-track and enhance the growth and development of Nigeria’s financial system as an integral part of the national vision 2020.

The strategic vision of FSS2020 is “to be the safest and most diversified financial system among emerging markets supporting the real economy by the year 2020.”

The strategic themes are to strengthen and deepen the domestic markets; enhance integration with the external financial markets, and promote sustainable economic development.

Continuing, Emefiele pointed out that Nigeria has made significant progress since 2007 in actively reforming its financial system.

He noted that despite the global economic meltdown in 2008, the FSS 2020 Transformation Programs and initiatives provided the platform for fundamental changes in the country’s economic and financial landscape.

He explained: “Under financial market, Pension, MSME, Insurance and Mortgage sectors, FSS2020 has introduced some far-reaching initiatives which have helped to deepen the economy.

“For example, our Payment System has tremendously improved. There is now a Central Bank of Nigeria Immediate Transfer Service (CBSITS) and an interbank platform for effecting payment transactions, Electronic Cheque Clearing (ECC) system allowing for a same day cheques-clearing process, Nigeria Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) as an alternative means for interbank funds transfer among others including the Real time gross settlement system.

“In the Mortgage sector, one of the initiatives of FSS2020 is the establishment of Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC), an initiative which the Federal Ministry of Finance embraced and drives.”

NMRC is a public private partnership arrangement between the federal government and the private sector with substantial take-off contribution from CBN to bridge the funding cost of residential mortgages and promote the availability as well as the affordability of good housing to Nigerians by increased liquidity in the mortgage market through commercial banks, primary mortgage banks, insurance companies, private equity investors and international financial institutions.

In the medium, small and micro enterprises (MSME) sector of FSS2020, he pointed out that the central bank midwifed the establishment of the National Collateral Registry (NCR).

Furthermore, Emefiele disclosed that the FSS 2020 Insurance Sector was collaborating with NAICOM to promote insurance penetration in Nigeria with the introduction of micro insurance program, Takaful, increase access to insurance and diversifying of products into financial services for long term financing.

According to him, a number of bills had been initiated by FSS2020 to strengthen and deepen the financial system including the financial ombudsman bill for consumer empowerment.