National Assembly: CAMA Law Will Ensure Corporate Accountability, Ease of Doing Business

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Deji Elumoye and Udora Orizu in Abuja

The National Assembly on Saturday lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for assenting to the Companies and Allied Matters (CAMA) Bill recently passed by the legislature, saying the new law would guarantee corporate accountability and ease of doing business in the country.

The two chambers of the bicameral legislature said in separate statements that the new CAMA law fulfilled a key agenda of the 9th National Assembly.

The new law repeals and replaces the extant Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990, which has been in use for over 30 years.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru, said in a statement that the purpose of the amendment was to strengthen the legal framework for the incorporation of companies, which had become obsolete, as well as address several corporate legal innovations geared towards enhancing ease of doing business in Nigeria.

He said the assent also demonstrated the mutual cooperation between the executive and the National Assembly.

Basiru stated, “The assent by Mr. President to this very important piece of legislation has further demonstrated the cordial relationship between the National Assembly and the Presidency, and is also a validation by the president of the efforts of the National Assembly in providing the needed legislative interventions for the resuscitation of the nation’s economy.”

Basiru explained that the amended CAMA law, specifically, accommodated provisions, which insist on the disclosure of persons with significant control of companies in a register of beneficial owners to enhance corporate accountability and transparency.

According to him, “It is not in doubt that the provisions of the repealed Act had become very obsolete and, therefore, could not effectively address challenges being faced by companies and incorporated trustees, such as business rescue for insolvent companies and the merger of Incorporated Trustees for associations that share similar aims and objectives.

“It is gratifying to note that the new Act provides for innovating processes and procedures to ease the operations of companies, such as introducing Statements of Compliance; replacing ‘authorised share capital’ with minimum share capital to reduce costs of incorporating companies; and providing for electronic filing, electronic share transfers, e-meetings as well as remote general meetings for private companies in response to the disruptions to close contact physical meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Others include the disclosure of persons with significant control of companies in a register of beneficial owners to enhance corporate accountability and transparency.”

The House of Representatives spokesperson, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, in a statement on Saturday, said Buhari’s assent to the bill marked a milestone in the fulfilment of the legislative agenda of the 9th National Assembly. Kalu said the Green Chamber would now prioritise the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill, the Constitution Amendment, and the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), among other key legislations.

According to him, “The 9th National Assembly has scored another major landmark with the Companies and Allied Matters Act (amendment) Bill (“CAMA”), which was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, August 7, 2020.

“On February 25, while meeting with the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council led by Dr Jumoke Oduwole, the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila had assured Nigerians that the House would fast-track the consideration and amendment of CAMA, stating that the bill was a key priority of the 9th House necessary to address national economic challenges and to improve the legal framework for doing business in Nigeria.

“The bill, which was passed barely two weeks after that promise, comes as a result of the resolve of both chambers of the 9th National Assembly to facilitate the ease of doing business in Nigeria. Its final assent into law marks a key milestone in the fulfilment of the legislative agenda of the House under the leadership of Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and is attributable to the harmonious working relationship between the legislature and the executive.”

Kalu said the economy was a priority of the 9th House and that was the reason it swiftly passed the Finance Act, Deep Offshore Sharing Formula Act, and revised Appropriation Act 2020.