Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Tackling stock market irregularities

By Hong Liang (China Daily) Updated: 2013-08-26 09:40

The head of China's securities watchdog, Xiao Gang, knows something that his agency needs: a few good men.

Xiao has talked openly about the difficulties the China Securities Regulatory Commission faces in combating stock market vagaries, and he has made it known that he is seeking to recruit 600 professionals, trained in accountancy or law, to be investigators. The new recruits will more than double the number of investigators at the agency, and they will account for 40 percent of the staff, compared to 32 percent in the commission's counterpart in the United States.

It is not clear how such an ambitious staff expansion plan can be achieved, given the budgetary and bureaucratic constraints the commission faces, but it can be assumed that Xiao has obtained the approval from higher levels - the regulatory commission reports directly to the State Council - to go ahead with his plan, the urgency of which has been highlighted by the Everbright Securities fiasco that exposed the myriad irregularities that exist in the Chinese capital market.

All eyes are now fixed on the regulatory commission which is expected to provide the answers to a host of questions raised by the abnormal trading by Everbright Securities that prompted a spike in the domestic stock market. That fiasco has pushed investors' tolerance of the much criticized stock market irregularities to the limit, and they are closely watching how the commission will handle the case, which involves a powerful State-owned enterprise.

In the past several days, the domestic media has been howling for blood. "Only when Everbright is severely penalized can there be hope," declared Xinhua News Agency, which said that the debacle poses a stern test of the commission's determination to enforce the law.

The stakes are indeed high for the commission, which has already been widely blamed, albeit unfairly, for the failure to lift the prolonged market gloom. It is expected to pull out all the stops in its investigation of the Everbright affair, so that it is seen to be thorough, fair and transparent.

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