ISLAMABAD - Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Chairman Zafar Hijazi on Wednesday directed the officials to be extra vigilant while implementing the recently-amended SECP law.

Briefing the employees on recent changes to the SECP Act, 1997, he advised all of them to take necessary measures to ensure that those at the helm of affairs were fully familiar with the changes made in the said Act to enable the Commission function more effectively.

Besides SECP chairman, Dr Tariq Hassan, former SECP chairman Ms Rahat Kaunain Hassan, former chairperson Competition Commission and chief prosecutor, SECP, Muzzafar Ahmad Mirza also spoke on the occasion and highlighted the importance of the amendments made to the SECP Act, 1997.

The briefing was arranged in view of the fact that the Bill will come into force soon, after the approval by the president.

The chairman hoped that the amendments would facilitate superintendence and control over capital and financial services, markets, corporate sector and insurance industry.

“This will bring the SECP at par with its counterparts in the capital markets of the world,” he said, and brought home the point that the amendments had greatly increased the SECP’s responsibilities and the employees would have to discharge these in a transparent and equitable manner.

“The act is part of government’s reforms agenda, which is likely to include more such things in future,” he added.

Dr Tariq Hassan pointed out that by virtue of these amendments, SECP would become administratively and financially more independent.

He said that functions of the Commission had been enhanced to include regulations, promotion of Shariah-compliant financial products, growth of the corporate sector (public and private), promotion of good corporate governance, creation of awareness among investors and giving protection to investors; ensuring development of a sound regulatory framework to counter illegal and unfair practices in financial services market; to control and minimize market abuse, misconduct and financial crimes in financial services market and other sectors regulated by the Commission etc.

Ms Rahat Kaunain provided an overview of the amendments due to which an independent Audit Oversight Board would be established to ensure quality audit of public interest companies and establishment of self-regulatory organisation (SRO) for the protection of investors and public interest.

Ms Rahat briefly explained the provisions regarding prosecution of offences by the Commission and powers pertaining to inspection, investigation, enforcement and call for information, which are proposed to be enhanced.

He added that effective mechanism had also been introduced in the amendment Bill for the recovery of penalties through court in addition to recovery as arrears of land revenue.