New Delhi: Capital markets regulator Sebi, which is facing a staff crunch in its top ranks, will hire a 'Chief Economist' to strengthen its research capabilities in the area of overall economic policy and the securities market.

Currently, the Department of Economic Policy and Analysis of Sebi is being supervised by one of its Executive Directors, but the workload has increased manifold for top officials, especially in the wake of some positions lying vacant for quite some time in the recent past.
It would be a first for Sebi to have a 'Chief Economist', the process for whose recruitment was initiated last week with the invitation of applications.

The position of Chief Economist would be equivalent to that of an Executive Director of Sebi in terms of pay, benefits and allowances and the person would get gross emoluments of Rs 1,29,532 (with Sebi-provided accommodation) and Rs 1,79,532 (without accommodation) per month.

The Sebi board approved the creation of this post at its last meeting.

Among other responsibilities, the Chief Economist would lead a team of economists and research professionals, support the senior management with economic and policy research inputs, carry out research and analysis of the overall economic environment and the securities markets in particular and also help in publishing various reports and studies.

Recruitment of a Chief Economist might free one of the Executive Directors from having to supervise the Department of Economic Policy and Analysis' (DEPA) day-to-day operations.

The department is now being headed by Sebi Executive Director Ananta Barua under the overall supervision of Sebi Whole-Time Member WTM) Prashant Saran.

Saran is currently the only one Whole-Time Member with Sebi, which has a provision for having as many as three WTMs.

While names are said to have been finalised for two WTMs, the concerned persons are yet to assume the office pending certain clearances. The positions have been lying vacant since the retirement of its two whole-time members -- M S Sahoo and K M Abraham -- earlier in July.

Normally, the Sebi board has three whole-time members and one chairman, in addition to two independent members and nominees of the RBI, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

In addition, positions for two EDs are also lying vacant at Sebi, which currently has six executive directors.

This is despite Sebi having filled the posts of three EDs last month, including an extension for one of the incumbents.

The six EDs currently in office include Ananta Barua, Usha Narayanan, P K Nagpal, S Ravindran, S Ramann and J Ranganayakulu, who was appointed for another term after his previous tenure ended on August 13. Among others, S Ravindran and S Ramann were also with Sebi, but in other capacities.

The appointments were made after the terms of three former Executive Directors -- K N Vaidyanathan, J N Gupta and Pradyna Saravade -- ended in July this year.

Experts said that the vacancies in top positions might not have affected the day-to-day functioning of the regulator, as it has a strong workforce, but policy decisions could have been impacted, as the existing officials were given numerous additional responsibilities.