Participating in SEBI's silver jubilee celebrations in Mumbai on Friday, Dr. Singh said his government is committed to strengthening the regulator's enforcement powers, and added that he was in favour of making it easier for foreign investors, including central banks, sovereign wealth, university and pension funds, to invest in India.
Mobilisation of household savings into productive investment in the capital market must be a key goal for everyone in the financial sector, Singh said.
The high growth rates that the economy has witnessed in the last decade or so have been driven by enhanced savings and investment rates, he said, adding that investors are more empowered today than ever before because of the availability of a large amount of relevant information.
Singh said that it is a matter of concern that financial savings as a percentage of GDP has declined recently.
He said for mobilising savings into productive uses retail investors should have incentives to invest in financial assets.
The Prime Minister informed that a number of steps have been taken to attract retail investors like introduction of Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme, incentives for Mutual Funds to reach beyond top 15 cities, in order to deepen and widen financial system.
Dr. Singh complimented SEBI for providing a well regulated capital market, and said it has successfully modernised capital markets and brought international best practices to India.
He also asserted SEBI can also make a vital contribution to the revival of the economy by taking a lead role in establishment of Infrastructure Debt Funds by offering supportive regulatory environment.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram asked SEBI to regulate the market fearlessly to protect their interests, and not to bow or bend before anyone.
He said SEBI should increase its strength and be a fearless regulator, and scale up its human resources.
He praised SEBI for the work done in the last 25 years for regulating the stock markets.
The volatility in the stock markets is keeping small investors away. The government and Sebi have taken various steps to win over the confidence of retail investors, he added.
Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister T Shanmugaratnam was the Guest of Honour.