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Some big companies indulge in insider trading: UK Sinha, Sebi chairman
November, 18th 2011

In the eight months since taking over as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India, UK Sinha has taken measured steps on some policies relating to the capital market. Sinha, a former civil servant who had earlier worked in the finance ministry as joint secretary in charge of the capital markets and external commercial borrowings division besides a stint as CEO of UTI Mutual Fund before joining Sebi, spoke to ET NOW's George Cherian on a range of issues. Excerpts:

You have undertaken to overhaul various functions within Sebi and also the organisational structure. What led to this thinking and also, how is the plan progressing?

We believe that regulators must also do a serious amount of introspection about the impact they have created. I am reminded of what the Persi Mistry Committee had recommended that there should be a regulatory impact assessment.

Unless any regulator looks at introspection and also at how it performed with regard to its functions and tasks, there may be the view that we are doing very well and we did not look at ourselves. So accountability and impact assessment is what were at the back of our minds.

Sebi is perhaps the first regulator in the country to introspect in this serious a manner by trying to engage an outside consultant. We have also been influenced by the fact that after the global developments, many of the major companies are thinking on similar lines.

We have also set up an international advisory board. We are possibly the first regulator in the country to work in this direction. We have got a group of eminent people - practitioners, regulators and academics- with whom we will interact every six months. We will discuss new developments in the world and how to tackle them.

Investor faith in Indian equity market is possibly the lowest among any country in Asia. What are you doing to address that?

If you look at the Asian market, wherever investor interest has gone up substantially, it has happened primarily on the back of pension money. So, my first case is that it's very difficult for me and you or anybody to reach out to every household in the country to collect savings.

Wherever there is a pool of money, which represents household savings, and if that pool is brought into the market, then the market will pick up. It is also relevant from the point of view of foreign versus domestic institutions. Domestic institutions have to be strengthened to provide a counter balance to the foreign investor.

Foreign investors are welcome but to depend substantially on them and not develop our domestic market is perhaps not a good strategy. If you have noticed the insurance industry has been able to get more money than the mutual fund industry and that has provided a good counter balance.

Regional stock exchanges aren't faring too well with all of them barely seeing any trading. How long will it be before exit guidelines for these exchanges are issued? Also, what's the progress with the Jalan Committee report?

This is something we must have behind our backs very soon. There are historical reasons and some political and social reasons behind creating so many exchanges but now that we have a national system of trading and anonymous trading, many of them find that their existence is seriously challenged. Sebi came out with some policy in 2008 but it has not worked.

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