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MAS has had two meetings with remisiers' reps
THE Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has met twice with representatives of the 1,225 remisiers who in January wrote to Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam about issues plaguing the local stock market.
Investment specialist S Nallakaruppan, who wrote the original January letter, on Thursday updated all signatories on the progress of his efforts.
"We had thorough discussions (on Feb 17 and March 4), on a cordial basis, which went late into the nights," wrote Mr Nallakaruppan.
"We are thankful that we've had a platform to air our views and concerns to the authorities, and we're hopeful that what we've brought up will be given due consideration."
The two meetings focused on issues raised in the January letter, namely ways to rebuild confidence in the local stock market, create an environment conducive for investing and trading, maintain the quality of listings, have proper consultation with market participants on new policies, and have better surveillance.
Also covered were the role of trading representatives (TRs) and whether they are simply order takers, the need for a fairer split of commissions than the present 60-40 which favours broking firms, and perhaps the most contentious of all, an appeal to reinstate the lunch break.
Continuous all-day trading or CAT has been a sore sticking point in the TR community since its introduction by the Singapore Exchange (SGX) in 2011 that marked the removal of the 12.30-2pm lunch break.
The Society of Remisiers in a Jan 15 letter appealed to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to bring back the lunch break, arguing that it was a "basic human right", but was told that MOM is unable to help under the Employment Act as TRs do not have an employer-employee relationship with SGX.
According to Thursday's update, TR representatives have now proposed the day be split into two sessions - 9am-12pm and 1pm-4.30pm, ie half an hour before Hong Kong opens and half an hour after Hong Kong closes.
Recent letters to the press have questioned the usefulness of CAT, leading SGX in a March 5 reply to say that CAT is needed to reduce extreme volatility or "gap risk'' that could materialise if the market is stopped for a lunch break. "Aligning our market hours to other Asian exchanges allows our participants to respond immediately to any news that may impact stock prices, thus reducing risks," wrote SGX executive vice-president Chew Sutat. "Since then, extreme volatility from 1230 to 1400 hours has been reduced."