SEBI asks regional bourses to shape up or ship out

Monday, 19 May 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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AHMEDABAD: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the country's capital market watchdog, has warned that a number of regional stock exchanges may have to shut down if they don't improve their performance.

"We do need regional exchanges. But they have to become viable. Otherwise, they may have to go to the archaeological department," said G.N. Bajpai, chairman of SEBI.

"I recommend rejuvenation of regional stock exchanges. My request to them is that we should together work out the process (of rejuvenation)," he told stock market investors at an awareness campaign launched here Friday.

Bajpai said SEBI had approached several states to help the regulator curb unauthorised trading in regional stock markets.

"Quite a few illegal activities are going on. I have requested the Gujarat chief minister as well as other chief ministers to help curb them. I also request brokers not to support such activities," he said.

SEBI had earlier this year superseded the Ahmedabad Stock Exchange governing board because it was found incapable of checking illegal trading on the bourse.

The SEBI chief said investor education is the best defence against possible market misconducts.

"We want to help average investors learn the standoff between risk and return. Investors should be able to make investment decisions themselves. With that objective in mind, we have launched a Securities Market Awareness Campaign.

"Two major market misconducts are still vivid in memory. The equity cult of the 1990s has disappeared. This campaign will help the investors regain their confidence in the market."

Bajpai outlined a number of steps SEBI has taken to check stock market manipulation. "India is one of the best, if not the best in the world, in operational risk management," he claimed.

"We have the best disclosure standards in the world. As for corporate governance, we are a step ahead of the international practices, with the introduction of corporate governance ratings."

Bakul Dholkia, director of Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, felt that an alarming drop in the capital raised on the bourses was due to the absence of common investors in the market.

"The regulator must help the investor. The human mind is capable of devising the most ingenious ways to break through any security barriers, and we have to be on our toes to safeguard investors' interest."

Source: IANS
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