Sebi proposes warehousing norms for non-agri goods

Markets regulator Sebi has proposed a framework for war­e­­house companies and oth­er allied service providers en­­­gaged in non-agricultural goods, a move which will he­lp in improving the delivery and settlement mechanism.

The proposed guidelines would be applicable for warehouses and assayers engaged in non-agricultural commodities such as precious metals, gems and stones, metals, minerals and alloys but excludes crude oil, electricity and natural gas.

At present, stock exch­an­g­es or clearing corporations have prescribed stora­ge no­r­ms regarding non-ag­r­i­c­u­l­t­u­ral commodities but there is no uniformity in the norms specified by such entities.

In order to ensure efficient delivery by the clearing corporations (CC), Sebi is considering a broad set of standards and norms for compliance by CC accredited storage agencies for storage of physically delivered non-agri goods.

Under the proposal, Sebi said there should be a tripartite agreement among stock exchange, clearing corporation and warehouse service providers (WSP).

WSP should be a corporate body with the subscribed and paid up share capital of Rs 10 crore, the regulator said in a draft paper dated November 29.

An accredited WSP prov­i­­d­ing storage services should have a minimum net worth of Rs 25 crore for precious me­tals, gems and stones, wh­ile the same should be Rs 10 crore for single metal and Rs 25 crore for multiple meta­ls. Existing WSPs should me­et the requirements prescribed latest by March 31, 2020.

“Further, the clearing co­rporation shall ensure that the value of the goods stored in the accredited warehouses of WSP shall not, at any point of time, exceed 33 times of the net worth of the WSP,” as per the proposal.

Sebi observed that wareh­­­­ousing or storage infrast­r­u­c­­­­­ture and its ancillary services play a critical role in de­livery mechanism of the commodity derivatives markets.

“A robust and credible wa­rehousing infrastructure is sine qua non for an effect­i­ve commodity derivatives market that can inspire conf­i­dence amongst the market participants and other stake holders,” Sebi noted.

The Securities and Exc­h­a­nge Board of India (Sebi) has sought comments from the public till December 29 and a final regulation will be put in place after taking into account views of all the stakeholders. As per the proposal, WSP should put in place a business continuity plan and submit such plan to the clearing corporation.

Clearing corporations should have to ensure that the WSP, its promoters and key management personnel are ‘fit and proper’ to carry out business of warehousing. Also, they need to ensure that the accredited WSP has a professional management team to oversee its functioning and operations.

Besides, clearing corporation should ensure that the WSP should ideally own the warehouse. Alternatively the WSP should hold a direct lease with the owners for at least 3 years.

The clearing corporation sh­ould ensure that WSP for precious metals, to be elig­­ible for accreditation, has re­­­­­asonable facility and infras­tructure for proper hand­l­i­ng and storage of commodity.

Besides, clearing corporation may take necessary action against WSP if the warehouse is unable to meet the requirements of an accredited warehouse and fails to improve the standard within the stipulated time. Further, they should frame necessary code of conduct for the WSPs, warehouses, vaults and assayers.

The clearing corporation should upload a status report on their websites by the fifth of every month giving the details of the number of applications received for accreditation of warehouses; those pending for registration as well as rejected ones along with the reasons.