COVID-19: Stock markets to close for 2 days? Anmi urges SEBI

ANMI has urged SEBI to close markets

stock-market-bse [File] The BSE Sensex plunged to more than 10 per cent in opening trade today | PTI

Stock brokers association Anmi on Tuesday asked market regulator Sebi to close stock exchanges for at least two days, which will give brokerage firms time to close their entire outstanding positions, in case all states do not declarestock brokingas an essential service, exempted from lockdown. Meanwhile, the Centre on Monday requested chief secretaries of all states to exempt services of Sebi-regulated stock market entities as well as related workforce from the purview of lockdown imposed to curb spreading of coronavirus infections.

The move comes against the backdrop of alleged instances of brokers, depository participants and other personnel related to stock markets facing difficulties in commuting to their workplaces. So far, only three states -- Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan -- have declared 'stock broking and depository services' as essential services. Anmi said, its members and their staff are facing huge problems to reach their head office to operationalise their central server, back office functions, risk management and depository services to meet client requirements.

In many cases, members have reported that even their 'skeleton staff' could not reach their head offices. Meanwhile, a total of 32 states and Union territories have declared complete lockdown so far covering 560 districts, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. In a letter to Sebi, Anmi, has asked Sebi to issuenecessary advisory to all state governments that they declare 'share broking and depository services' as essential services exempt from lockdown/curfew. Incase, all states do not declare 'share broking and depository services' as essential services exempt from lockdown/curfew, then announce closure of share markets giving two days time to share brokers to close their entire outstanding position, Anmi added.

On Monday evening,Sebi had said that the central government has requested states and Union Territories to keep the services of stock market entities exempted from the purview of lockdown as well as permit essential staff of the stock market participant to commute to their offices. Anmi, which represents over 900 stock brokers across various exchanges, had written a letter to Sebi on Monday too asking about the regulator to classify brokers and depository participants as essential services and advise all state governments to issue clarification in this regard.

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