Debt MFs: SEBI mulls minimum asset allocation in liquid assets

Debt MFs: SEBI mulls minimum asset allocation in liquid assets

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New Delhi, September 22

With an aim to bring liquidity, markets regulator SEBI is mulling stress testing, minimum asset allocation in liquid assets and swing pricing like mechanism for all open-ended debt-oriented mutual fund schemes, its chief Ajay Tyagi said on Tuesday.

SEBI is facilitating the setting up of an expert committee to frame a stress-testing methodology, encompassing liquidity, credit and market risks, Tyagi said while addressing industry body Association of Mutual Funds in India’s (AMFI) 25th annual general meeting.

The committee will also design a framework to determine the minimum asset allocation required in liquid assets, taking into account the nature of scheme's assets, type of investors, outcome of stress testing and minimum redemption requirement during gating, he added.

In the interim, taking into account the recommendations made by the mutual fund advisory committee, SEBI said it would be stipulating a minimum holding of liquid assets by all debt-oriented schemes.

While overnight schemes are primarily invested in liquid assets such as government securities (G-Secs), treasury bills (T-bills), repo in G-Sec and cash, there is a provision for liquid schemes to hold a minimum 20% in liquid assets.

The other debt-oriented schemes currently have no such requirement and can invest in various categories of corporate bonds, commercial papers, whose secondary markets may not have enough liquidity.

As far as performance of the mutual fund industry is concerned, Tyagi said overall, the industry has weathered the storm well, which demonstrates the robustness of the regulatory framework as well as the maturity of the industry.

The industry, however, also went through several patches of challenges, especially on the debt mutual fund side.

"Some of the issues that arose during the period are now addressed and some are in the process of being addressed," he noted.

In March-April 2020, significant risk aversion and subsequent illiquidity were observed in the bond market especially in "AA" and below rated papers.

The move created significant challenges in the form of redemption pressures being faced by debt mutual funds, on account of not only normal year-end redemptions, but Covid-19 related redemption pressures.

Panel to frame guidelines

SEBI is facilitating the setting up of an expert committee to frame a stress-testing methodology, encompassing liquidity, credit and market risks

The committee will also design a framework to determine the minimum asset allocation required in liquid assets

While overnight schemes are primarily invested in liquid assets such as government securities, treasury bills, repo in G-Sec and cash, there is a provision for liquid schemes to hold a minimum 20% in liquid assets

.

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