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Lawmakers Investigate N126.03b Unclaimed Dividends

The House of Representatives has directed its Committee on Capital Market and Institutions to investigate unclaimed share dividends in the capital market, valued at over N126.03 billion.

This followed the unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Rep. Babangida Ibrahim at the plenary, on Wednesday.

The motion was tagged “Need to Investigate the Rising Value of Unclaimed Dividends, Unremitted Withholding Tax on Dividends and their Attendant Effects on the Nation’s Economy.”

Ibrahim said unclaimed dividends had continued to increase over the years, thus increasing the unremitted withholding tax on dividends in the country.

The lawmaker said that the value of unclaimed dividends rose from N5.1 billion to N103.1 billion between 2002 and Nov. 2016, compared with the value of N2.09 billion in 1999.

He added that the value of unclaimed dividends as of March 2019 stood at N126.03 billion, almost three years after the 8th House’s intervention.

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“The House is aware of the mechanisms put in place to address the issue of the rising value of unclaimed dividends.

“These include the adoption of electronic dividend payment method, dematerialisation of share certificates, acceptance of dividend warrants in both savings and current accounts.

“Others were the need for the consolidation of accounts by the Central Securities Clearing System and Registrars and the need to resuscitate publication of names of owners of unclaimed dividends by companies, all of which had been applied with no significant positive outcome,” he said.

Ibrahim listed the implications of large value of unclaimed dividends on the economic development of Nigeria to include adverse investors’ confidence, decrease in the availability of long-term capital for economic development and the likely volatility in the regulation of the capital market.

The House, therefore, mandated the committee to investigate the rising value of unclaimed dividends and unremitted withholding tax on dividend and their attendant effects on the nation’s economy. It directed the committee to report back within six weeks for further legislative action.

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