Too early to conclude FPI pullout due to demonetisation: SEBI

Kolkata, Jan 17 : Capital market regulator SEBI on Tuesday said It would be “too early” to hold the central government’s demonetisation move responsible for the massive pullout of foreign portfolio investment from India during the October-December quarter in view of vital international developments during the same period.

Addressing an interactive session, Securities and Exchange Board of India Chairman U.K. Sinha cited the US Presidential poll results and the increase in Fed interest hikes as crucial global happenings.

He said more time was needed to analyse to what extent the banning of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes has prompted the Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPI) to pull out $11 billion from India’s capital market during the third quarter of the current (2016-17) fiscal.

“There is no hard data on this. Data will be available only after 3-4 months. But, on the very day the decision (of demonetisation) came into force, the US presidential results also came out.

“That had an impact not only on India but other parts of the world as well. It is too early to analyse and say that it has gone out because of cancellation of legal tender.

“Besides in USA, the Fed enhanced the rates,” he replied to a poser on whether the decision to demonetise the currency notes was responsible for the massive flight of FPI from India.

He said there was a feeling among investors all over the globe that the US dollar would become strong and money from other geographies will travel to the US. “What percent is because of the cancellation (demonetisation oF old Rs 500 and Rs.1,000 notes) and what percent is because of US elections will be analysed, but it would take some time,” he said.

However, he said the role of FPIs to affect market sentiments is now limited in contrast to earlier times, when Indian markets were highly dependent upon the foreign capital inflows.

“In 2015-16 the foreign flows were negative. It was negative across the emerging markets and not just India. Between October-December, $11 billion foreign portfolio has gone out of India. But our market has held on.

“So, we must appreciate the strength of the market. If this (FPI) would have gone out even three-four years back, the market and Rupee would have collapsed,” Sinha said.

He said as per International Monetary Fund projections, demonetisation would have only a short-term impact on the Indian economy.

Sinha also lamented the lack of Initial Public Offering proposals from east India, even in the backdrop of a happening primary market and SME segment in other parts of the country.

Terming the business model of regional stock exchanges like the Calcutta Stock Exchange (CSE) as “obsolete”, he said these were acebound to fail”.

Pointing out that 19 stock exchanges have exited over the past three years, he said: “In case of CSE, my feeling is that we are not getting the required cooperation of shareholders and the matter is sub judiceaI don’t see any chance of regional stock exchanges surviving.”

About the long-term capital gains tax, Sinha said the SEBI has stumbled upon instances of investors and brokers using the stock exchange route to avoid paying taxes.

He said the amount of suppressed income was over Rs 10,000 crore, with Kolkata being “highly over-represented.”

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