Sovereign Wealth characterization: The truth—IMF

Mr Amine Mati, the IMF’s Senior Resident Representative and Mission Chief for Nigeria, has come out with a statement clarifying recent media reports on IMF’s characterization of sovereign wealth funds in Nigeria.
In a release signed by Laraba Bonet and made available to OpenLife, Mati stated “In view of recent local media reports, I would like to clarify that the reference to the Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF) included in Figure 2.16 of the IMF’s Fiscal Monitor showing a low ranking for Nigeria does not refer to the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA). The NSIA is a Sovereign Wealth Fund that has worked extensively with development partners to ensure it is applying transparency practices that are aligned with the Santiago Principles of transparency, good governance, accountability and prudent investment practices.” “The figure in the IMF’s Fiscal Monitor reports a score prepared by the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), which assesses the corporate governance and transparency of SWFs around the world using a methodology outlined in the referenced NRGI publication. For Nigeria, that SWF reference focuses on the Excess Crude Oil account, which requires greater transparency on the rules governing deposits, withdrawals, and investment.”
Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) had reacted to the report by the International Monetary Fund, IMF, during the week , in its Fiscal Monitor report released at the latest Spring Meetings of the World Bank and IMF in Washington, United States of America, that ranked Nigeria as the second worst country in the world in the use of Sovereign Wealth funds saying that the IMF report is not reflective of the role and impact of the NSIA. NSIA said the ‘report does not reference the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, and that sweeping reference to the Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund and the use of third-party data raises concerns.
NSIA in a statement by Titilope Olubiyi Communications Adviser said ‘the content of the April 2019 edition of the IMF Fiscal Monitor Report – Curbing Corruption, has been brought to the attention of the Authority.
While the report does not reference the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, its sweeping reference to the Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund and the use of third-party data raises concerns.
It stated further that ‘NSIA was established under the Santiago Principles, which consists of 24 generally accepted principles and practices voluntarily endorsed by International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF). The Santiago Principles promote transparency, good governance, accountability and prudent investment practices whilst encouraging a more open dialogue and deeper understanding of Sovereign Wealth Fund activities. Recently, the IFSWF highlighted NSIA as a “well governed SWF.”
‘Since its inception, the Authority has adhered to the strongest principles of governance and as a result is highly rated under the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute (SWFI) Transparency Index. Over the past 5 years the Authority has consistently ranked in the top quartile of the SWFI’s transparency ranking; currently ranked global joint second which is the highest ranking for any African Sovereign Wealth Fund’
‘It is noteworthy that the NSIA has been used as a case study by some African countries seeking to set up their Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF). The governance process of NSIA is well documented in its Establishment Act. NSIA has an independent professional Board of Directors that through 5 committees, rigorously oversees the operations of the fund. NSIA’s governance framework includes the Governing Council, the Board of Directors, the Executive Management, an internal auditor, and external auditor in PricewaterhouseCoopers. The Auditor General and Accountant General of the Federation both independently audit the accounts and operations of the fund. The Authority publishes its accounts annually and publishes its quarterly Management accounts online. In addition, the NSIA’s investment policies are published on its website. NSIA works closely with international institutions such as the World Bank Group, AFDB, and DfID, which provide programs and personnel to further strengthen NSIA’s governance and transparency. Among NSIA’s senior staff are members of the World Bank Group and DfID, who have led NSIA business areas and programs for the past several years. ‘NSIA adheres to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and UK Antibribery Act and has a procurement system modelled from the world’s leading institutions. Saudi Aramco rated most profitable company 2018 ‘NSIA does not believe that the IMF considered the role of the NSIA in the Nigerian economy and underpinning governance framework of the Authority in its report. However, because NSIA is entrusted with capital from its State, Local and Federal shareholders and is actively developing key projects in areas such as healthcare, education, agriculture, and transportation – which are key Nigeria’s economy and social well-being, we wish to assure our stakeholders that NSIA adheres to the highest standards of governance and transparency and always will. ‘The Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority Act mandates that the NSIA run three ring-fenced funds – Stabilization Fund, Future Generations fund, and Nigeria Infrastructure Fund with asset allocation of 20:30:50 respectively. The first two funds invest globally, and the last fund is focused on Nigeria domestic infrastructure needs. Whilst the Authority understands the theory of “Dutch disease” and its effect on domestic investment, we believe that investing in commercially viable domestic infrastructure should be the focus for funds such as the NSIA.
This is the philosophy that has underpinned the operation of the Nigeria Infrastructure Fund. ‘The Authority remains a committed and transparent investment institution of the Federation. The NSIA has been built on a solid foundation and is better prepared to manage even more funds and assets for the Federation and FGN.
In our opinion, the IMF report is not reflective of the role and impact of the NSIA.’

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