Pakistan’s securities watchdog is examining ways to support the country’s struggling brokerage and insurance industries under its latest chief.
The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan is working more closely with insurers and seeking solutions for securities firms that are dealing with a stock-market slump, Chairman Farrukh Sabzwari said in an interview.
Pakistan stocks are the world’s worst performers in the past two years, having erased more than half of their combined market value to $43 billion. Brokerages have been struggling with a drop in trading volume and a dearth of new listings. Meanwhile, the nation’s insurers face the lowest penetration in South Asia.
Sabzwari said he will:
- consider a request by brokerages for minimum commissions, while taking into account the views of all stakeholders after mutual funds objected to similar proposals earlier
- reduce barriers for startups and small to medium-sized companies to tap capital markets; he targets a few listings this year
- make it compulsory for companies to have group life insurance, third-party automobile liability coverage, and occupational health insurance before March.
Sabzwari, who took the post in December, said he wants to change the culture of his “politicized” agency to make it more “facilitative and friendly.” He noted that the commission has seen five heads in seven years. One of them was arrested on suspicion of tampering with documents for former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“I was under no wishful thinking that this would be a bed of roses,” he said. “It’s a hotbed of controversy.”
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