Manmohan, Chidambaram tell SEBI to beef up its act

Both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister P Chidambaram exhorted the Securities & Exchange Board of India on its silver jubilee today to upgrade its resources in order to effectively police the country's fast-developing stock markets.

The prime minister asked the regulator to root out insider trading; both he and Chidambaram agreed that the board should hire more personnel for the purpose, as its current workforce of 600 may be inadequate to cope with the rising number of companies.

''A key indicator of SEBI's future effectiveness will be its ability to root out the hard-to-define but extremely pernicious disease of insider trading,'' Singh said.

''It is only by building its human and technological capabilities that the board can fulfill its mandate of delivering strong enforcement.''

The prime minister also asked the regulator to speed up a proposal to make it easier for certain foreign investors such as pension funds, university funds, central banks and sovereign wealth funds to invest in India.

''This is an area which needs priority attention, especially in view of the current macro-economic environment in our country. I would urge the board to quickly bring to fruition the initiatives that are already underway in this regard,'' he said.

He also asked that efforts be made to improve the corporate debt market.

Others present at the event in SEBI's Mumbai office included union minister for communications and information technology Kapil Sibal, deputy prime minister of Singapore T Shanmugaratnam who is also the finance minister; Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and union ministers Namo Narain Meena and Milind Deora.