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Friday, December 05, 2008

Greater transparency at SEBI

I have often written about the gaps in transparency at RBI. Yesterday, the SEBI board took a major step forward in improving their transparency. Their press release says:

In order to bring transparency in the working of the Board it was decided that the agenda papers submitted to the Board on all policy issues will be made available in the public domain by putting them up on the SEBI website after the Board has taken a decision on the issue. The minutes of the meeting relating to such items will also be made available on the SEBI website after the Board has approved the minutes. Accordingly the agenda papers for today’s Board meeting will be made available on the SEBI website by December 15, 2008.

I think this is a big step forward in transparency. Those not present at the board meeting will have a much better sense of what was discussed and the kinds of arguments made.

Some of the components of the agenda papers will be criticised in public -- and that is a good thing. This will put pressure on SEBI staff to perform to a higher level of quality in their staff work. For a person who wants to induce a wrong decision in the SEBI board, now it will not just be a matter of navigating the preparation of agenda papers and handling the discussion in the board meeting. Now the media, the general public and the broad policy discourse will be able to look more deeply at each decision. Also see Gautam Chikermane in Hindustan Times on 7 December.

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