MP Chaguanas East Constituency
Dr Patrick Watson, chairman of the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), said laws governing the capital market in T&T had in the past constrained its operations. Speaking on the role of the SEC, he said: “We are not there to be simply policemen. Yes, we are there for that too as that is important as it contributes to investor confidence. We have no doubt in our mind that securities markets are vital to the growth, development and strength of economies like ours. But we are constrained by the legal framework.”
The new Securities Act of 2012 which replaced the Securities Industry Act of 1995, was the focus of a session hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce T&T (Amcham) at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre yesterday. Watson said the economic recession triggered around 2008 was one of the factors that led to the development of the new legislation. “It got a boost when the global financial crisis struck us between 2007 and 2009. What was telling about that was the erosion of investors confidence and yes we are constrained by a legal framework. But our business is the development of T&T and we do believe in the development of the capital market as it will assist the country’s development. One of the key aspects of this is investors’ confidence,” he said.
Rapid changes abroad and in T&T has led to local legislation being modernised, he said.
“The regulators had a challenge of keeping abreast of constantly changing products. In T&T in particular we encountered new challenges with the Act of 1995 clearly becoming more and more inadequate. We had to provide an adequate legal framework that allowed for the transparent operation of the markets in many jurisdictions including ours. That led to a more aggressive approach to regulation through the passage of new legislation,” he said. The Securities Act 2012, proclaimed last December, provides protection to investors from unfair, improper or fraudulent practices. The legislation also aims at ensuring fair, efficient securities and confidence in the securities industry in T&T and reducing systemic risk. It replaces the Securities Industry Act.