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Mutual Fund Markets To Be Strengthened: Ajay Tyagi, Sebi

Tyagi clarified that the growth of financial markets was not a ‘bubble effect’ but due to the strong macroeconomic fundamentals of the country

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India’s financial markets have shown strong growth, noted Ajay Tyagi, Chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). He was speaking at a session on financial markets and corporate governance as a part of the Annual Session 2017 of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) at New Delhi. He stressed the need to boost alternative channels of investment to revitalize the bond markets which have been the weak link in this growth.

Tyagi clarified that the growth of financial markets was not a ‘bubble effect’ but due to the strong macroeconomic fundamentals of the country. There has also been a positive move towards funding corporate debt through corporate bonds rather than going the bank route. The strong reform agenda of the current government, especially the new Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and demonetization, were helpful for the financial sector. Household savings can now be channelized successfully towards mutual funds. Tyagi added that the mutual fund markets were being further strengthened to encourage this.

Easing mutual fund investments through the use of e-wallets is a major initiative that SEBI has taken up. While the global trend of increasing protectionism is concerning, it is not an immediate issue, he said, as the focus needs to be on easing domestic regulations to make India a future financial hub.

This also ties into the issue of corporate governance as ownership patterns in India are complicated and they need to be made more transparent for making it more attractive for investors. SEBI, in collaboration with IRDA and others, hopes to come up with a Common Stewardship Code akin to a code of conduct for investors. He urged CII to collaborate in this effort. This effort will not only increase tax efficiency but also accountability and move away from “passive interest of institutional investors”.

Leo Puri, MD, UTI Asset Management Company, noted that a review of takeover codes is imperative to boost India’s competitiveness in financial markets. In this regard, positive momentum on bond markets would be helpful. Puri pointed out that there was a need to re-skill internal administration of SEBI to align with the current scenario. He also raised the issue of governance of market intermediaries.

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