Nepse flouts directive from SEBON to shut down market

Kathmandu, March 22

Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse) has blatantly flouted the direction of the Securities Board of Nepal (SEBON) — the regulatory body of the share and commodities market — to shut down the secondary market in a bid to stem the possible spread of coronavirus in the country.

Bhishma Raj Dhungana, chairperson of SEBON, said they had already directed Nepse to halt trading from today. “But we don’t know why Nepse has not followed our direction and opened the market today.”

“On Thursday, after discussions with the officials of Nepse, various investor associations and brokerage companies, all the parties had agreed to halt the service temporarily for some time from today but Nepse has not followed the order.”

“We have given a final warning to Nepse to close the market from Monday and if they do not do so then we will forcefully shut it down,” Dhungana informed.

Meanwhile, Chandra Singh Soud, chief executive officer of Nepse, did not respond despite multiple calls from The Himalayan Times.

“Opening the market today means defying the government’s decision,” said Dhungana, adding, government has taken initiatives to prevent the coronavirus infection from spreading in the country. “When anyone decides to open the market it fundamentally means that the person is disobeying the government’s request and direction and also going against Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s address to the country on Friday to shut down all businesses except those deemed essential by the government,” he stated.

However, as per the existing law, the board can close the market only for a maximum of seven days.

Nevertheless, stating the board will consult with Ministry of Finance for extending deferral period, Dhungana added if the line ministry gives its consent, the trading halt could be stretched for at least a month.

Against this backdrop, Nepse dropped by 1.43 per cent or 18.20 points to 1,251.45 points today. Similarly, the sensitive index also went down by 1.01 per cent or 2.76 points to 271.06 points and float index also dropped by 1.76 per cent or 1.59 points to 88.56 points.

Altogether, 480,527 shares of 123 firms worth Rs 194 million were traded through 2,391 transactions today.