DOF lauds SEC’s high corporate governance standards

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has cited the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for its exemplary record in maintaining the high standards of governance of the business sector as well as protecting the investing public from crooked corporate practices and fraudulent financial instruments.

Speaking at the 80th founding anniversary of the Commission, Dominguez said the SEC's job would even become tougher as the Duterte administration carries out its plan to expand access to financing to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and shift the economy's focus from consumption- to investment-led growth.

He pointed out, in particular, the SEC-supervised Credit Information Corp. (CIC) whose database, which also covers SMEs, is crucial to enabling small entrepreneurs to better avail themselves of financial services from the capital market.

The CIC's task, Dominguez said, is "an important step in bringing small enterprises to the mainstream and making our economy truly inclusive."

"I am confident the SEC will do what it has to do to assist in the modernization of our economy. This is an agency with an exemplary record for integrity and efficiency, and for that I congratulate you all. This is an agency that can manage to further streamline procedures and deploy more information technology to better do its job. In the reforms you will undertake, be assured of the continuing support of the Department of Finance," Dominguez said in his keynote speech at the Commission's anniversary rites held Friday at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila.

Describing the SEC as "a staunch enforcer of standards for corporate governance and a fierce protector of the investing public," Dominguez noted that the SEC plays a key role in helping improve the ease of doing business in the country and making the business climate more conducive to investments.

"Over the next few years, we expect to sustain a growth rate of at least 7 percent annually. That is the only way to lift our people from poverty. Over the next few years as well, we envision a shift from consumption- to investment-led growth. This is the only way we can be a truly inclusive economy," he said.

To achieve this, he said "we need to improve the business climate, make business startups easier and ensure that new businesses will have access to the capital markets."

"The SEC will play a leading role in all of these," he said.

Dominguez said the SEC would have to be more innovative while, at the same time, remain stringent enough to ensure that it "keeps everybody honest," especially now that businesses are becoming more complex, financial markets develop new instruments by the day, micro enterprises are drawn to the corporate mainstream and the government expands the reach of credit services to more Filipinos.

The various government agencies, including the SEC, would have to do more in encouraging the expansion of the corporate sector and attracting foreign investments.

"There is much to do, no doubt. Our corporate sector is among the smallest among the emerging economies of the region. Foreign direct investment has lagged behind the rates of growth posted by our neighbors. We have among the lowest ratings for ease of doing business among our peers. We need to improve on these very quickly." Dominguez said.

He said that as the government implements measures to draw in more investments to drive growth, the SEC, in particular, "must be both regulator and enabler, which is "a task that requires both discipline and imaginativeness in equal measure."

"I am confident the SEC has the depth of talent to accomplish its mandate to keep the standards for corporate governance as well as encourage more business activity. The Commission has been a learning organization. This is indispensable. Business practices evolve quickly. The principal regulatory agency cannot be left behind," Dominguez said.

Being both the "registrar and overseer" of the corporate sector, Dominguez congratulated the SEC for having done its job well in its 80 years of existence.

"I am confident you will continue to be a strong presence for our country's economic progress," he said.

The SEC exercises control and supervision over all corporations, partnerships and associations in the country. It decides over who may or may not organize a business, sell stocks and other securities as well as accredit market professionals, including brokers and dealers.

Over 500,000 companies regularly file their financial statements with the SEC. The Commission may exercise quasi-judicial powers in stopping the commission of fraud and likewise settles corporate disputes, suspends the activities of businesses that fail to exercise proper business behavior and has the power to halt the sale or purchase of stocks linked to fraudulent dealings.

Source: Philippine Information Agency