Govt to simplify FII registration to spur investments

KYC may focus on investor risk profile

Govt to simplify FII registration to spur investments

In a bid to attract foreign investors and stabilise the flagging rupee, which has been battered in recent months, the government is fast-tracking the simplification of overseas investors' registration norms, a top finance ministry official said.

“The move will improve foreign flows into Indian markets and firm up the rupee against the dollar,” the official told Deccan Herald.

"The Sebi board is likely to approve new norms for registration of foreign institutional investors (FIIs) next week," the official said, declining to be identified. The Sebi board is meeting on July 25, some decision on this line is expected at that meeting.

A Sebi panel headed by former Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar had earlier this month suggested a raft of measures including simplified registration process for foreign investors and classifying them into a single category. The panel had also suggested that Know Your Client (KYC) rules should be based on risk profile of investors.

It said the simplification of KYC and account opening norms would make the "experience for FPIs of entering into India smoother, resulting in increasing inflows into India". Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) will be the new category created comprising FIIs, sub-accounts and qualified foreign investors (QFIs).

Soon after the report was out in the public domain, Finance Minister P Chidambaram had endorsed it, saying the finance ministry was in favour of the reforms.

“I am of the view that we are in favour of the reforms. Our representative on the Sebi's board will present the government’s view when the Sebi meets on June 25," the finance minister had said recently.

FIIs, the main drivers of Indian equities, have put in more than $15 billion into Indian shares in calendar year 2013. India is particularly dependent on foreign inflows on account of its high current account deficit.

However, they have pulled out around $3 billion from the debt market and about $244 million from equity market so far this month due to weakness in the rupee.

The rupee fell to 59.99 against the dollar in intra-day trade on June 20 after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank will slow bond purchase later this year and completely halt it by mid-2014.

Market experts said easing FII registration norms will be a step in the right direction and if implemented early, it would reduce the unnecessary pain investors have to go through at present.

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