Jan 23, 2011

Regulators fail to protect investors interests in Bangladesh

The capital market regulator has failed to play its due role in protecting interests of the retail investors and handle the stock market, says a former Bangladesh Bank governor.

"It is the failure of the regulatory body [Securities and Exchange Commission] as it did not exercise its independent authority," former central bank governor Dr Salehuddin Ahmed told a discussion in the city on Sunday.

Economic Reporters' Forum (ERF) organised the discussion on monetary policy management and Bangladesh Bank.

"I do not understand why the finance minister keeps on saying that he made some mistakes. It is the duty of the regulator to maintain stability in the market. The SEC's approach is reactive rather than being proactive, and that is its main problem," he said.

He also commented: "Before taking any decision, it should have analysed the whole situation and its impact, but it has changed its policy as a short-term remedy. A policy may favour one and hurt another, and it can not be a win-win situation. And the SEC should understand that."

The recent debacle in the market could have been avoided if the manipulators of 1996 scandal had been put on trial and brought to book, he said.

"Heavy penalty is imposed on insider trading everywhere in the world, but it is absent here," Salehuddin said.

The former governor said banks should not be overexposed to the capital market as they deal with the depositors' money. "If the banks make profit, depositors will not get any benefit, but if they incur any loss then the burden falls on the depositors. This is unfair and the banks should not do it."

He advised the central bank to strengthen its supervisory and monitoring system to avert any untoward situation in the market in the future.

"The Basel III, which will come into effect in 2018, put emphasis on supervisory and monitoring system, and this is the high time for the Bangladesh Bank to start implementing this seven years ahead," he added.

Bangladesh Bank executive director Jahangir Alam said five banks invested in the share market more than their legal limit, and they had been warned for that and asked to adjust the exposure.

"We've issued a circular on July 9 in 2009 to provide all information related to investment and exposure of the banks, but a quarter outside the central bank spread a rumour that it (BB) withdrew the circular," he said.

There is enough liquidity in the market even after increasing cash reserve ratio (CRR) by 0.5 percentage point as the central bank injected about Tk 70 billion on January 6 alone. "The market has the experience of confidence crisis, not the liquidity shortage."

Former Bangladesh Bank deputy governor Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled said it was 'absolutely wrong' to say that the central bank was responsible for the recent crisis in the stock market. "If SEC cannot find out who play foul in the market, then we can say it fails to perform," he said.

"When the central bank increased the CRR it did not think of the share market. The focus was rather on containing inflation," he added.

Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation chairman Quazi Kholiquzzaman said the share market crisis did not happen on its own. "It was staged."

"If the manipulators are not identified and brought to book then it will happen again," he said.

Mentioned that a total of Tk 85,000 crore have been channeled out through the Bangladesh Share Market within the last 30 working days, sources said.

The General Index was 8918 points on December 5, 2010 and it labelled down at 6312 point on January 20, 2011. 

The amount siphoned off during the last six month specially was very preplanned sources added. Total market capital was Tk 3,68,000 Crore (Tk 3680 Billion) on December 5, 2010 which now collapsed to Tk 2,83,000 Crore (Tk 2830 Billion) on January 20, 2011.

Total Capital reduces of Tk 85,000 Crore (850 Billion), which amount is channeled out by the Market Makers in the last one month, sources said.     

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