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Sebi looking at allowing futures trade in petrol, diesel: Official


New Delhi: Markets regulator Sebi is looking at permitting futures trading in petrol and diesel, an official said emphasising that there has been no disruption in commodities derivatives trading during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) is also looking at re-allowing futures trade in tur and urad, which were banned in 2007 after a spike in prices of these commodities.

“Yes, all products that I mentioned over here (tur and urad weather indices), including petrol and diesel, are being looked into,” Sebi General Manager (Commodity Segment) Chhavi Kapoor said at a webinar hosted by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI).

She added that many products are in the pipeline, and given the market conditions, these products will be looked into. “I cannot say whether these products will come or not.”

Currently, futures trading is allowed in crude oil. Petrol and diesel are, among others, the two major refinery products derived from crude oil.

Earlier too, there was an industry demand to allow futures trade in these two petroleum products. Sebi had sent the proposal to the petroleum ministry.

On this issue, PHDCCI President D K Aggarwal said, “This is a sensitive issue. I do not know whether Sebi or the ministry will be comfortable.”

He said prices of petrol and diesel in India are affected by local taxes, which comprise 70 per cent of the total cost. Suppose a retail price of diesel is Rs 72 per litre, the cost of taxes itself comes to about Rs 50.

“Since these two products affect most industries and the entire economy, I think allowing these products will help in hedging the prices. As a market participant, we would like to have these products,” he added.

Earlier, responding to a query on making corporate hedging compulsory in commodities derivatives markets by banks, the Sebi official said such a proposal is under a discussion stage with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

“It is still under discussion with the RBI… It cannot be mandated by Sebi alone. Both the regulators have to come on board on this issue,” she said.

Right now, Sebi has asked the corporates to disclose their hedging details in their annual reports. These disclosures form a basis for further talks with the RBI, she added.

On allowing derivative trading commodities such as skimmed milk powder (SMP), the Sebi official said it is ready to consider new products if industry submits a proposal after a thorough research and justifying its need.

The government list of 91 notified commodities on which exchanges can launch commodities for trading, cannot be “sacrosanct”, she said adding that the exchanges should look at new products learning from the current COVID-19 crisis.

“COVID-19 has been a big jolt, but it is also an opportunity for all of us to learn what we can do in future so that a pandemic of this kind will not affect the market,” she said and noted that there has been no disruption as such in the commodities market as people have been able to trade smoothly.


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