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CFTC pleads for budget hike approval

Friday 18 March 2011 - by Will Henley

The chairman of the US derivatives regulator has appealed to Congress to back a $140m (€100m) hike in its funding.

Gary Gensler, speaking to the House Appropriations Subcommittee in Washington DC on Thursday, called for the House to heed his call despite fierce opposition from Republicans.

At present the CFTC is operating on a frozen 2010 budget of $168.8m (€120.8m).

Gensler however insisted that this would be "insufficient" for it to meet increased oversight responsibilities on futures and swaps stemming from the Dodd Frank Act.

"We recognise that the budget deficit presents significant challenges to Congress and the American public. But we cannot forget that the 2008 financial crisis was very real," he said.

"Congress responded and said that the swaps market must be regulated and overseen, significantly expanding the scope of the CFTC. It is important that we align the CFTC's funding with its expanded mission."

The request for fisal year 2012 includes a $66m (€47m) increase in technology funding, which Gensler said was essential in light of the takeup of technologically aided trading.

"This increase allows the commission to invest in technology in an effort to keep pace with the futures marketplace that is becoming increasingly populated by algorithmic and high-frequency traders," he said.

President Obama announced the 2012 budget increase last month, following several months of intense lobbying by Gensler.

The CFTC hike would "ensure proper oversight of the futures and swap markets through the maintenance of adequate staffing levels," according to the proposed budget.

The proposal comes with an increase in the budget of the Securities and Exchange Commission. It would see its resources upped to $1.427bn (€1.058bn).

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