ANMI to SEBI: Tell States to consider stock broking as ‘essential service’

Mumbai | Updated on March 23, 2020

‘Only Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan have issued circulars in this regard’

Stock brokers’ body Association of National Exchanges Members of India (ANMI) has requested SEBI to ‘declare capital markets as essential services’ throughout the country. This comes in the backdrop of stock brokers are being stopped from opening their offices and employees facing a backlash. A decision was taken by the Centre and SEBI to keep stock and commodity markets open as usual.

But while the markets have been kept open, brokers are currently not being allowed to open their offices in many States. Only Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan have so far declared stock broking an essential service. Delhi and Kolkata, home to a number of stock brokers, are witnessing high tension with brokers not being allowed to open their offices.

“The State governments of Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Delhi have extended Janata Curfew to March 31. However, are no explicit guidelines/notifications have been issued by these State governments exempting capital markets/stock brokers’ offices from the total lockdown,” a letter from ANMI to SEBI said. In Mumbai, clarifications were issued to authorities to exempt employees working in exchanges and broking offices from the lockdown. No such clarifications/guidelines have been being issued by other State governments, ANMI said.

ANMI further said that all financial markets are integrated globally, and India is among the top seven markets globally in equity volumes. Hence, equity and derivative markets cannot be shut down while global exchanges/financial markets are actively operating.

SEBI and the exchanges have permitted trading via terminals from various locations in the country. Though up to 50 per cent of the front office staff of broking offices have been allowed to work from home, such a facility cannot be extended to back office staff and those looking after servers and operational affairs. Thus, it is imperative to declare capital markets/ stock broking services as essential services exempted from the lockdown, the letter said.

“Finance Ministry and SEBI have permitted stock exchanges to function normally as part of essential services. However, the staff serving back offices, servers and operational dependencies cannot entirely operate from home. And therefore, it is imperative to declare stock broking services as ‘essential services’ exempted from the lockdown. While Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan have issued necessary circulars, we support ANMI’s request to SEBI to implement this across India,” said Lav Chaturvedi, ED & CEO, Reliance Securities.

Published on March 23, 2020

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