News Regulations14 Mar 2018

China:Insurance and banking regulators to merge

14 Mar 2018

China will set up a banking and insurance regulatory commission, according to a plan submitted yesterday to the national legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC), that would be a major revamp for the financial sector aimed at curbing risk.

The new commission is mainly responsible for supervising the banking and insurance industries, preventing and dissolving financial risks and protecting consumers' rights.

The CIRC and the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) will be dismantled, as a part of institutional restructuring of the State Council.

The Communist Party which controls the government has stated that its priorities this year include reducing financial risk following a run-up in corporate and local government borrowing that prompted global rating agencies to cut Beijing’s government credit rating last year.

The new regulator will be capable of “holding the bottom line to prevent systematic financial risk”, the NPC document says.

The responsibilities of the two separate regulators currently overlap in some areas, leaving regulatory roles unclear, the document says.

The merger of the two regulators is seen as a move which would give the government a better handle on supervising the insurance and banking sectors which have seen increasing cross-sectoral transactions that hide levels of lending and risk.

The two regulators will hand off duties such as proposing laws to the People’s Bank of China in a sign that the central bank is stepping up its regulatory role.

Other signs of the growing power of the central bank include the PBOC’s adoption of a so-called Macro Prudential Assessment framework, to better gauge risks in the entire financial system as well as the health of individual institutions. Off-balance sheet wealth management products and other shadow banking activities were later included in the framework, reports Bloomberg.

The proposed changes set out in the NPC document are expected to be approved by lawmakers who end their annual session next Tuesday.

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