Finance Minister Larry Howai has tabled the Securities Bill 2012 in the House of Representatives, Tower D, Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain.
The bill is aimed at providing protection to investors from unfair, improper and fraudulent practices, to foster fair and efficient securities markets and to reduce systemic risk. The bill is also designed to increase confidence in the securities industry.
In recognising the "historic importance of the bill" for the "regulatory system", Howai said Government was hoping that the discussions coming out of the bill would assist it in implementing a framework to ensure the continuing stability and strength of the financial system.
In a statement to the House of Representatives, Howai said the number of players and the size of the Securities Market had grown commensurately. "Today the size of the market is in the vicinity of $260 billion,..which is almost twice the size of the GDP of Trinidad and Tobago," he said. He said therefore the legislation was important. He said a major disaster in this particular area could create very significant hazard for the economy as a whole. He said the former administration did bring a bill to the House about three years ago, which was passed in the House of Representatives and the Senate but the term of office of that Government came to an end.
Howai said this administration revisited the legislation. He noted that the International Organisation of Securities Exchange Commission indicated to this Government that there were a few areas where the bill (drafted by the previous regime) was deficient. "This required us to go back into the bill and deal with (the issues of) confidentiality, information sharing and access to bank records," he said, adding that as a result of this the entire process of drafting the legislation had to be redone.
Howai said in addition, a new process of consultation needed to be undertaken because the changes to the new bill were substantial. He said two consultations were held in Trinidad and one in Tobago. He said all the major players who would be affected by the bill were involved- the Stock Exchange, the Bankers' Association, Securities Dealers Association, Mutual Fund Dealers Association, Institute of Chartered Accountants. He said there was also consultations among the regulators- the Securities Exchange Commission, the Central Bank, the Solicitor General, Ministry of National Security, Law Association as well as the major trading houses and players.
He said in keeping with the importance of the bill, the consultation was wide-ranging "and we think we have come to the place where we have a bill which reflects the importance which one should attach to the regulation of a market, the value of which is twice the GDP".
He noted that over the past four years the world had entered into a significant downturn in the US and Europe and that this had occurred largely because of poor regulation. The Bill will be debated on November 16.