Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ban on bureaucrats rocks bourse in Bangladesh

SALEEM SAMAD

THOUSANDS OF SMALL investors took to the streets after the bourse dipped once again to 4695.57 points, losing 168.72 points or 3.46 percent, at close of trading on Wednesday.

As the index tumbled inside, on the outside the Dhaka Stock Exchange building protesting retail stocks investors blocked traffic in the Motijheel, commercial hub of the city. Riot police with bullet-proof vest and tear-gas shells stood guard to protect the agitators becoming violent, said senior police officer Krishna Roy.

Share prices dropped sharply on Wednesday even after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman clarified that no decision was taken in Monday's cabinet meeting to stop public servants from investing in the capital market.

Hours after issuing a notification asking the bureaucrats to refrain from making investment in the capital market, the government on Wednesday withdrew the order.

The raucous began over the government’s official notification which bans the bureaucrats from investing in the capital market. The notification says that public servants cannot make any speculative investment or engage in a business that creates a conflict of interest.

Fearing massive fall in share prices following the banning of bureaucrats from investing their money in the capital market, the authorities on Tuesday based on the media report on “banning government employees from investing their money in the capital market”.

At a press briefing Musharraf M Hussain, chief executive officer of the Dhaka Stock Exchange, said they suspended the trading to protect interests of both the capital market and the capital investors.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes on Islamic terrorism, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile from Canada after return of democracy. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com