We are gathered here today to inaugurate the Insurers’ Committee and I am delighted to welcome you all to this inaugural ceremony.
The Insurers’ Committee will provides a platform for all Chief Executives of insurance companies in Nigeria to sit with the regulator to discuss issues affecting the Industry and proffer steps on developing the business of insurance with the goal of having an effective, efficient performance and improved contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the nation.
The insurance sector is indeed a key component of the Nigerian financial system considering that in most developed jurisdictions, the insurance sector accounts for a significant portion of the economy. As an emerging and transitional economy and in line with the change agenda of the Federal Government, the relevance of the insurance industry becomes more critical as a provider of capital, employment and security.
As the country’s economy continues to develop, and with the attendant risks involved in economic expansion and growth, it is indeed imperative to consider the role of insurance as an important determinant to progress and development.
The Nigerian Insurance market in recent past had undergone substantial structural and regulatory reforms following the market intervention and the evolution of Nigeria’s financial sector in the last decade. Thus, the formation of the Insurers Committee would initiate policies and facilitate implementation to drive the sector growth.
Tasks for the Committee
Our overall Vision for the Insurance Industry is to significantly increase insurance contribution to GDP, deliver jobs in this industry, and widen access by growing the number of insurance policyholders in the country.
You may all recall that at the Insurance Industry Summit held in December, 2014 the then Minister of Finance proposed a four-point plan for the industry.
1. Enforcing“public interest”(compulsory) insurance;
2. Delivering jobs and skills training,
3. Building consumer trust and public awareness and,
4. Increasing access to insurance.
These plans were re-echoed at the last Mega conference of the Insurance Industry Consultative Council (IICC) held in July this year. Our goals are therefore laid out from the resolutions of these conferences.
It is a given that there are challenges in every undertaking in life, and while the Insurance industry accepts it challenges and undertakes to wrestle them head on, there is need for the biggest stakeholder; Government; to partner with the industry more, going forward.
Government and Insurance
Government’s general attitude to insurance has to improve. There is low patronage of insurance by government and its agencies and the lack of effort to protect public assets. Even when it does, the funding is haphazard. It is common knowledge that the ability of government to replace damaged or lost asset is not as sound as it use to be as such insurance is the best alternative to no protection at all. Employees, especially our gallant forces fighting in security challenges need to have the comfort of insurance protection as they confront their duties.
There is an apparent lack of Insurance expertise in the civil service as such government is not guided properly internally as it ventures to deal with the industry. The position of insurance is virtually non-existent in the civil service’s scheme of service, for the few insurance professionals are not placed properly to play their professional role.
The industry has been yearning for a review of the Insurance laws in the country, to these end an insurance bill was drafted and submitted to the Ministry of Finance with the full involvement of all stakeholders. Almost five years later nothing has been heard of it. We strongly solicit the Minister to see to the process and enactment of this Law so as to enable the industry play its rightful part in the developmental programs of the government.
Taxation and the Industry
The industry has complained of excessive and supposed unfair assessment modalities being used by tax authorities for tax computation of its finances. We plead with the new government and the tax authorities to pick interest on this and continue with the engagement with the industry to find lasting solution to this problem, so that the industry can play the expected role of investible and developmental fund provider for the Nigerian economy.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Nigerian insurance industry stands to play a major role to national development if the needed attention is accorded it by all stakeholders. Let me restate that we are gathered at this forum to rediscover ourselves and to reinvent insurance business in the light of the current world realities.
We are here to integrate new possibilities with basic truths of business success. We are here to rethink the future of the insurance industry. All hands must therefore be on deck if we must achieve our set objective.
Once again, I welcome you all to this epoch making forum, and may God bless our efforts.
Commissioner for Insurance