Risking lives, harassed by law enforcement; stock brokers struggle to reach offices amid lockdown

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Published: March 25, 2020 2:02:30 PM

Stock brokers and other personnel related to capital markets continued to face difficulties in commuting to their workplaces on Wednesday amid a 21-day nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus outbreak.

Stock brokers association Anmi and Commodity market Participants Association of India (CPAI) on Wednesday said brokers are still facing problems while commuting to their respective offices.

Stock brokers and other personnel related to capital markets continued to face difficulties in commuting to their workplaces on Wednesday amid a 21-day nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus outbreak. This comes despite Sebi’s last evening notification that stock brokers and other capitals, debt market related entities will be exempted from such closures. Stock brokers association Anmi and Commodity market Participants Association of India (CPAI) on Wednesday said brokers are still facing problems while commuting to their respective offices as police are not allowing any movement.

Further, Anmi has said it is receiving requests to suspend broking services and it will take up the matter with Sebi. CPAI has requested the regulator to curtail trading hours. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown as part of efforts to curb spreading of coronavirus infections. However, the government has said that capital market and debt market entities notified by Sebi will be exempted from such closure.

Anmi President Vijay Bhushan said the law enforcement agencies at grass-root level are still not sensitised about such a directive. This has led to several instances of manhandling the staff of broking firms to travel to/from offices.  “We have also received several requests to suspend broking services on humanitarian grounds considering the growing instances of spreading COVID-19. We will be taking up these concerns with Sebi today,” he added.

Narinder Wadhwa, President, CPAI said that brokerage companies and staff are facing huge difficulties to reach their offices as police are not allowing any movement. “These are exceptional and unprecedented circumstances when the regulators need to take into consideration the safety of the people engaged in these services and their families and take bold unprecedented steps to at least curtail times of market,”he said.

CPAI, in a letter written to Sebi on March 23, urged the regulator to close down all exchanges’ operations till March 31, in case broking services cannot be classified as essentials by all the state governments.

Besides, Association of National Exchanges Members of India (Anmi) had also requested 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 declare stock broking as an essential service.

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