The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has notified issuers and investors that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has approved “Guidelines for Granting Liquid Asset Status to Sukuk Instruments Issued by State Governments.”
It described the development as a major milestone for Nigeria as it will catalyze the development of non-interest capital market products.
Sukuk refers to Islamic bonds which are structured in such a way as to generate returns to investors without infringing the Islamic law that prohibits the charging of interest.
According to a statement by the management of the SEC, the release of these guidelines follow diligent advocacy efforts from the Capital Market Committee (CMC) on the need to grant liquidity status to Sukuk in order to bolster its appeal as a product for both issuers and investors alike.
Sukuk, the non-interest equivalent of bonds, is becoming increasingly attractive as a capital market instrument across the globe. Annual Sukuk issuances around the world have grown from $15 billion in 2008 to over $150 billion in 2015. As the Federal and State governments seek alternative funding sources for infrastructure, these new guidelines will make Sukuk one more available option.
It could be recalled that in 2013, the SEC had issued Rules on Sukuk Issuance in Nigeria following which the State Government of Osun raised N11 billion in Nigeria’s first Sukuk issuance which was oversubscribed. Since then, several State Governments have been exploring issuing Sukuk to raise funds for infrastructure financing and other much needed public interventions.
However, the absence of a liquid secondary market had been a key concern for investors like pension funds and other institutional investors. To address this constraint, the Capital Market Master Plan had highlighted the need to push for liquidity status for Sukuk. In implementing the Master Plan, the SEC and the capital market community closely engaged the CBN to develop and release guidelines for this purpose.
According to the SEC, with these new guidelines, Sukuk instruments issued by State governments can be discounted at CBN discount windows and can be applied by banks in their liquidity ratio computation, similar to conventional State bonds. This will facilitate the emergence of a vibrant secondary market that will encourage more issuances from State governments.
“The guidelines will play a key role in broadening and deepening Nigeria’s financial system by catalyzing the development of non-interest products and enhancing financial inclusion. We wish to commend the CBN for this laudable step while appreciating the CMC sub-Committee on non-interest products for their dedicated work leading to the release of these guidelines,” it added.