In the first ever merger of two regulators, over 60-year-old FMC (Forward Markets Commission) merged on Monday with the younger but much bigger capital markets watchdog Sebi. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday formalised the merger that would create a unified regulatory body.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) was set up in 1988 as a non-statutory body for regulating the securities markets, while it became an autonomous body in 1992 with fully independent powers.
FMC, on the other hand, has been regulating commodities markets since 1953, but lack of powers has led to wild fluctuations and alleged irregularities remaining untamed in this market segment.
The commodities market has been known to be more prone to speculative activities compared to the better-regulated stock market, while illegal activities like 'dabba trading' have also been more frequent in this segment.
Besides, the high-profile NSEL scam has rocked this market in the recent past and the subsequent regulatory and government interventions in this case eventually led to the
government announcing FMC's merger with Sebi.
Taking forward the announcement made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech earlier this year, FMC would be merged with Sebi with effect from on Monday.
The merger would be consummated here Monday at a function attended by Jaitley himself, along with Sebi Chairman U K Sinha and other top officials from the government and the regulatory bodies.
This is the first major case of two regulators being merged, as against the relatively more frequent practice worldwide of creating new regulatory authorities, including by carving out new bodies from the existing entities.
Ready to regulate commodity trading, Sinha has cautioned small investors against coming for quick gains through speculation in this market, saying this is "risky" and
requires a lot of technical expertise.
"People will come and tell you that with a small margin, you can make a lot of money. Do not fall into the trap," the Sebi Chairman had said, even as he asserted that the capital
markets watchdog was fully prepared to begin regulating commodities trading and all necessary safeguards would be put in place to keep the scamsters and manipulators at bay.
Sinha said his message to the small investors would be to keep away from the commodities market as it was meant for the experts and for those seeking to hedge their risks.
"If you put your hard-earned money into this market, it may not be ultimately good for you. The commodities market is for those who are experts in this space. For non-experts, it is a risky area," the Sebi chief said in an interview.
FMC's merger with Sebi is aimed at streamlining the regulations and curb wild speculations in commodities market, while facilitating further growth of the market.
At present, there are three national and six regional bourses for commodity futures in the country. Together, all the exchanges clocked a turnover of nearly Rs 60 lakh crore in
2014-15, from over Rs 101 lakh crore in the previous fiscal.
Asked about the preparedness for regulating the commodities market and his assurance to investors, Sinha said Sebi has got more than 15 years of experience of managing and
regulating the derivatives trading.