SEBI to outsource investor helpline to 3rd-party call centre

Faced with the Herculean task of handling lakhs of investor complaints, SEBI in March last week had decided to outsource such activities to help it resolve the investor complaints on a fast-track basis

New Delhi: Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has decided to outsource its investor helpline service to a third-party call centre, where at least 500 agents would be required to attend to investors' calls on issues like initial public offers (IPOs) and trading, reports PTI.

The decision to outsource its investor helpline comes within weeks of SEBI deciding to rope in third-party agencies for processing and maintenance of investor grievances.

Faced with the Herculean task of handling lakhs of investor complaints, SEBI in March last week had decided to outsource such activities to help it resolve the investor complaints on a fast-track basis.

Now, SEBI has decided to empanel a third-party call centre to run its nationwide toll-free investor helpline, where the investors' calls would be initially attended to between 9.30am to 5.30pm on weekdays, an official said.

The timings and hours might be extended further after three months, the official added.

Incidentally, SEBI is in the process of finalising a set of regulations for outsourcing of work by various market intermediaries such as brokers, mutual funds and investment bankers. The regulator is said to be against outsourcing of the market entities' core and investor-sensitive activities.

The investor helpline call centre would be required to attend investors' calls on matters like procedure for lodging complaints, opening of trading accounts, complaint status and assistance in issues like transfer and transmission of shares, IPOs, etc.

Besides, the call centre would also need to provide guidance on status of companies on whether they are unlisted, sick, vanished or delisted and matters pertaining to other regulators that are not under the SEBI purview.

The agency would also require to record and track the calls, inform SEBI about status of processing of calls, but would not provide legal opinions and investment advice.

SEBI wants the call centre agency to have at least five years of experience in BPO business and an authorisation from the telecom ministry for running a call centre.

Besides other necessary infrastructure and experience, SEBI also wants the company to have a minimum of 500-seat operation capacity for one shift and a 1500-seat capacity for three-shift operations, with equal number of call centre agents working on its roll.

SEBI wants the agency to provide the call centre service from Mumbai and provide space for one of its offices in its premises.

On the previously proposed outsourcing of investor grievance processing and maintenance work, the activities to be outsourced by SEBI include receipt of complaints, forwarding them to the concerned market entities and companies, tracking their status and conduct follow-ups.

Besides, the agencies would also be responsible for entry of the complaints into SEBI's computerised grievance redressal system with proper categorisation and codification, updation of the system with Action Taken Reports (ATRs) and keeping investors informed about progress on their complaints.

The market regulator is putting in place this web-based centralised system, named SEBI Complaints Redress System (SCORES), for speedy redressal of grievances.

SEBI's existing investor grievance redressal mechanism lacks a centralised database and the resolution of the complaints often gets delayed due to physical movement of files from one desk to another across its various offices.

Besides reducing time gap between receipt and redressal of a complaint, the new system would also help in storage of the investor grievances, whose numbers have swelled to over 2.7 million since SEBI's inception.

SEBI had received more than 32,300 investor complaints in 2009-10, while the numbers are even higher at over 39,600 in the first nine months of the last fiscal.

The new system would have a centralised tracking system for all grievances at various offices and divisions of SEBI.

Currently, lists of investor grievances are maintained at various divisions and regional offices of SEBI.

SEBI has told the prospective agencies to be empanelled by it for handing investor grievances to dedicate at least 10 skilled persons for the job initially and wants them to have prior experience in handling registrar and transfer activities, depository services or investor matters.

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Pranab says co-ordinated efforts necessary to control food, fuel inflation globally

Finance minister says recent volatility in prices of food, fuel throws up fresh challenges

Hanoi, Vietnam: Warning that volatility in food and fuel prices may be turning into a global, long-term phenomenon, India today called for a co-ordinated effort at the international level to control inflation.

Recent volatility in global prices of food and fuel has thrown up fresh challenges in management of inflation, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said. "... Management of inflation, in addition to domestic efforts, will increasingly have to be a globally coordinated effort," the finance minister said at a session on managing inflation and capital flows at the Governors' Roundtable of the Asian Development Board's annual meeting here.

Mr Mukherjee, however, blamed the loose monetary conditions in developed economies aimed at fighting deflationary trends to foster a recovery, which have led to volatile capital flows, partly contributing to volatility in commodity prices, PTI reports.

"Today, the entire globe is facing simultaneous volatility in food, fuel prices and commodity prices. Thus, over the last four years, we have moved from a fuel crisis to a food crisis, to a financial and economic crisis, and now, we are back to a food and fuel price crisis," he said.

India is grappling with high food inflation and the Reserve Bank of India tightened rates on Tuesday towards dealing with the problem, even at the cost of hurting short-term economic growth.

"We need to look closely at the contribution of different factors to food price volatility and inflation in order to understand and respond through policy reform," Mr Mukherjee said. He argued that a significant part of inflation was due to imbalances and inadequacies in global financial and monetary management.

The minister said one set of policies must address issues such as excessive liquidity and speculation, while another set of policies is required to address other issues such as panic buying and exchange rate fluctuations.

On capital flows, Mr Mukherjee said there had been a steady revival in flows to India in 2009-10 and this trend continued in 2010-11 due to strong economic fundamentals.

"However, easy monetary policy in terms of very low interest rates and quantitative easing in advanced economies have led to an increase in liquidity and lowering of long-term interest rates. These are also driving capital to emerging economies in search of higher yields," he said.

Mr Mukherjee said capital flows have exhibited considerable volatility, causing macro-economic instability in the event of sudden stops and reversals, eroding competitiveness and complicating the setting of policies. "I believe that policy prescriptions with respect to capital flows should be even-handed," he said.

He said, so far as lumpy and volatile flows are a spillover from policy choices of advanced economies, "managing capital flows should not be treated as an exclusive problem of emerging market economies and the burden of adjustment should be shared". He said policymakers must therefore have the flexibility, and discretion to adopt macro-economic, prudential and capital account management policies.

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Escorts reports 77% jump in Q2 net profit; to set up new plant

Escorts reported its net profit for the quarter ended 31 March 2011 at Rs73.22 crore compared to Rs41.47 crore in the corresponding period last year

Buoyed by a robust 76.56% jump in its net profit for the quarter ended 31 March, tractor maker Escorts today said it will set up a new production facility within the next two years with a total installed capacity of 50,000 units per annum.

The company reported its net profit for the quarter ended 31 March 2011 at Rs73.22 crore compared to Rs41.47 crore in the corresponding period last year.

The total net operating income during the second quarter increased by 33.49% to Rs901.81 crore from Rs675.56 crore in the year-ago period.

During the January-March period, the company’s tractor sales rose by 20.85% to 17,672 units from 14,623 units in the same period last fiscal.

“Our agri-solution business performed very well during the quarter, besides robust contribution from the construction division. Sales grew very strongly and we have almost reached the peak of our production capacity,” Escorts joint managing director Nikhil Nanda told PTI.

The company currently has four tractor plants that can produce about 95,000 units annually.

When asked about expanding its capacity, Mr Nanda said: “We have decided to set up a new plant and this will be in a new location. The installed capacity of the plant will be 50,000 units and it will be operationalised within next two years.”

He, however, declined to share details such as the location and the planned investment for the proposed unit.

“Besides, we are also investing Rs165 crore in our agri-machinery business, mainly to expand the capacity of higher powered engines and introduce higher HP tractors,” Mr Nanda said.

The company is setting up a machine shop with an annual installed capacity of about 50,000 units to supply parts to the upcoming facility, he added.

He said the company is investing another Rs50 crore for its construction division to expand the capacity of material handling and earth moving equipments and introduce new products from its Ballabhgarh unit in Haryana.

“With strong demand for infrastructure machinery, we are today focused and have aggressive plans for the construction equipment business. Technology tie-ups are in the pipeline to offer higher value added products to our customers, with an aim to become a one-stop shop,” he said.

Shares of Escorts closed 3.08% down at Rs130.55 on the Bombay Stock Exchange today, while the benchmark Sensex declined 1.40% to 18,210.

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