*Cites Exclusion Of Pensions, Health Insurance As Under Developing Insurance Sector

 

From CLEMENT NWOJI, Abuja

 

The apex insurance regulatory body in Nigeria, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), has expressed concern over the delay processes hindering the prompt passage of the Consolidated Insurance Bill, which provisions it hoped will activate the insurance sector to play the expected role in economic development of the country.

 

Also, NAICOM has cited the exclusion of the nation’s pension scheme and health insurance scheme from being integral part of the insurance sector regulated by it as some of the reasons resulting to the insurance sector’s current minute contribution of less than one percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the nation and inability of the sector to boast of huge financial base.

 

The Insurance Bill, which expected to entrust more enforcement powers to NAICOM when passed into an Act, is an Executive Bill, and it has passed through the National Assembly and referred to the Ministry of finance and the Attorney General of Federation.

The Nigeria’s Commissioner for Insurance, Mohammed Kari, expressed these views while fielding questions from Journalists at the just concluded seminar for insurance Journalists organized by NAICOM in Benin, Edo state capital. The main theme of the seminar was “Expanding the frontiers for insurance market development and penetration in Nigeria: The NAICOM initiatives.”

 

Kari, who was represented by the Deputy Commissioner (Technical), Olorundare S.Thomas, said noted that the Bill has taken quite sometime undergoing processes of passage into an Act since it was introduced.

He said that NAICOM management and staff are ever ready and determined for the implementation of the provisions
While hoping that action should be expedited on it, he said: “With respect to the Insurance Bill that is in the House, it is an executive Bill. And of course, what it means is that it must pass through government processes.

“As an agency of government, we will try to pursue it the way we think that we should purse it. We are as concerned as yourselves that the Bill is not yet out. But I can tell you that we are doing all that is in our capacity to do to make sure that the kind of revolution that is expected in insurance sector takes up
because the passage of the Bill is going to go a long way to facilitate that expected revolution and kind of result we are expecting from the insurance sector. It is unfortunate that it is taking this length of time before it comes out.

 

In giving explanations on why the insurance sector in Nigeria is performing below expectations in comparison with the sector in other countries, the Director (supervision), Barineka Thompson said that there are certain things Nigerians seem not to know about the portfolio of insurance in Nigeria.

 

He said: “In Europe, South Africa and other African countries, health Insurance, pensions and workmen compensation are all under the portfolio of insurance practice. When we are compared to other jurisdictions in terms of volume of premiums or businesses, I just try to be silent and try to also explain.

“I can tell you that about 90 percent of the population in Nigeria or more doesn’t know that pensions and health are not part of the NAICOM or Insurance portfolio. Can you imagine if the over N7 trillion is in insurance, what proportion could have compare with that in international circles?

Earlier, while presenting the main theme of the seminar “Expanding the frontiers for insurance market development and penetration in Nigeria”, the Director (Research, Statistics and Corporate Strategy), Dr. Habila Amos, noted that close to a decade, market development formed the major objective of the NAICOM.

He said however, that the Commission does not have total control on enforcement of compulsory insurances because they are beyond its control. He said what is required is collaboration with relevant enforcement agencies who are mandatorily entrusted with the enforcement.