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SEC crippled by zero allocation, can't pay salaries

By The Citizen


The refusal of the National Assembly to approve the 2013 budgetary allocation of the Securities and Exchange Commission is taking a heavy toll on the finances of the organisation.

Investigations by our correspondent on Wednesday showed that SEC had not paid March salaries of its workers.

It was learnt that if the zero allocation continued, crisis of confidence might hit the stock market.

Top management officials of SEC, who spoke on the condition of anonymity owing to the sensitive nature of the matter, told our correspondent that the development was causing a delay in the payment of salaries and allowances.

For instance, one of the officials stated that workers had yet to get their March salaries due to lack of funds.

Prior to the resolution of the lawmakers not to allocate money to SEC, it was learnt that members of staff of the commission usually got their salaries between the 24th and 27th day of every month.

Investigations also revealed that the delay in the payment of salaries and other allowances was affecting the morale of the workers.

The source said, 'The bickering between SEC and the National Assembly is beginning to affect our operations. As I speak to you now, we have not been paid our March salaries.

'We normally get our salaries latest 24th of every month before this problem started, but all that is history now. When you are working hard and you don't get you salary at the end of the month, it affects productivity and that is what we are experiencing here at the commission.

'Staff morale is becoming low by the day and when such things happen, the stock market, which we regulate, may feel the negative impact.'

Another senior official of the commission confirmed the development and added that the zero allocation was causing a crisis confidence in the capital market.

The source said, 'The only thing I will confirm to you now is that the zero allocation is causing confidence crisis because people are beginning to wonder about the regulatory capacity of SEC.

'There are resource inputs that we get to regulate the (stock) market and these inputs are paid for. But the problem we have now is that people who provide these services now are beginning to question our capacity to meet our obligations to them.'

Continuing, the source added, 'The commission has in the last few years worked very hard to reposition the capital market and the results have started manifesting before this issue of no allocation.

'If there is low staff morale, then it will affect our regulatory and market development function over the capital market.'

The House of Representatives had in a letter to SEC's Director, Finance and Administration, warned the management of the commission not to spend any fund on its operations this year unless approved by the National Assembly.

The letter, which was written by the Chairman, House Committee on Legislative Compliance, Mr. Moruf Akinderu-Fatai, also stated that spending any fund without the authorisation of the National Assembly would be a breach of the 2013 Appropriation Act.

The letter appeared to be a move by the House to enforce its resolution demanding the sacking of the Director-General, SEC, Ms. Arunma Oteh, on the grounds of not being qualified to head the agency.

When contacted, the Communications Adviser to the SEC DG, Mr. Obi Adindu, said the issue was being addressed by the management of the commission.

'This issue is above my pay grade. It is a matter my bosses are handling,' he said.

The House of Representatives' letter, which was copied to the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Pius Anyim; and SEC's governing board, read in part, 'I write in the above regard to put the board and management of the Securities and Exchange Commission on formal notice of the fact of the House of Representatives resolution on the Securities and Exchange Commission.

'You will recall that the Securities and Exchange Commission had submitted its budgetary proposal for 2013 to the House. You will recall that no approval was passed back to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

'Further to this, and most importantly, the National Assembly had vide the 2013 Appropriation Act, item 9, Part E, Clause 10, stated thus: 'All revenues, however, described, including all fees received, fines, grants, budgetary provisions and all internally and externally generated revenue shall not be spent by the Securities and Exchange Commission for recurrent, capital purposes or for any other matters, nor liabilities thereon incurred except with prior appropriation by the National Assembly.'' Punch