PALAK SHAH The stockbrokers Association of National Exchanges Members of India (ANMI) has called on SEBI to “declare capital markets as essential services” across the country. It comes as stockbrokers are barred from opening their offices and employees face a backlash. A decision has been made by the Center and SEBI to keep equity and commodity markets open as usual.
But while the markets have remained open, brokers are currently not allowed to open offices in many states. Only Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan have so far declared stock brokerage as an essential service. Delhi and Kolkata, home to a number of stockbrokers, are under severe strain as brokers are not allowed to open their offices.
“The state governments of Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Delhi have extended the Janata curfew until March 31. However, no explicit guidelines/notifications have been issued by these state governments exempting capital markets/securities broker offices from full lockdown,” a letter from ANMI to SEBI says. In Mumbai, clarifications have been given to authorities to exempt employees working at stock exchanges and brokerage offices from the lockdown. No such clarification/guidance has been issued by other state governments, ANMI said.
ANMI further stated that all financial markets are globally integrated and India is among the top seven global markets in terms of share volumes. Therefore, equity and derivatives markets cannot be closed while global stock exchanges/financial markets are actively operating.
SEBI and the exchanges allowed trading through terminals from various locations across the country. Although up to 50% of front office staff at brokerage offices have been allowed to work from home, such a facility cannot be extended to back office staff and those dealing with servers and operational affairs. . Thus, it is imperative to declare capital markets/equity brokerage services as essential services exempt from the lockdown, the letter says.
“The Ministry of Finance and SEBI have allowed stock exchanges to operate normally as part of essential services. However, staff serving back offices, servers and operational dependencies cannot entirely operate from home. And therefore, it is imperative to declare stock brokerage services as “essential services” exempt from the lockdown. While Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan have issued the necessary circulars, we support ANMI’s request for SEBI to implement this across India,” said Lav Chaturvedi, Managing Director and CEO of Reliance Securities .