A public rights activist and former chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, has joined a chorus of protests and concerns at the state of affairs at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Commission Chairman Thilak Karunaratne resigned on Friday after repeated attempts to scuttle the institution’s investigations and probes against market manipulation. His opponents – a powerful group of investors with regular access to the President – have complained that these probes were hurting sentiment in the market and not stimulating activity.
In a letter to parliamentarian D.E.W. Gunasekera in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE), Chandra Jayaratne said that he was sad at the recent news reports published since the recent COPE review of the SEC and its regulatory operations.
“I am happy that living up to public expectations of COPE, you have initialed a review of the Securities Exchange Commission and its regulatory operations. I fully support your directing the said review and expanding its scope to go beyond the narrow confines of an oversight of the financial performance of independent regulators in order to ensure their observance of financial discipline in their operations. I believe that so long as such reviews do not impinge on the operational independence and not directive in nature and are conducted within a framework of serving a role similar to that assigned to an audit committee; it will serve the interests of all stakeholders, including the state as well as the regulatory body concerned,” the letter said.
But he expressed concern over the continuing pressure and external interference on the Chairman and Board of Directors of the SEC especially at a time when there are initiatives led by the Chairman to have in place effective and best practice regulations which will ensure a stable, sustainable and professional securities market and will assure long term growth and rewards to all stakeholders.
Mr Jayaratne said the role of the COPE must extend to ensuring that operational freedom, independence, international best practice embedded operating rules and regulations and unrestricted enforcement capability are in place for the Chairman, the Board and the professional management team to effectively discharge their duties.
It is only in such an operating environment as described above, that necessary reforms, effective regulations, operating rules with effective governance and enforcement will be possible, meeting long term goals and satisfying stakeholder expectations, he added.
He appealed to COPE to support the urgent and priority need for the securities market regulators to be empowered and enabled them to exercise their independence and professionalism in the development of regulation.