The Securities and Exchange Commission is mulling a once-shelved proposal that would make it easier for fund managers to launch less complex ETFs, according to a Reuters report Tuesday.

Regulators may allow firms to sidestep the tedious and time-consuming SEC application process, according to the article.

“The SEC first issued such a proposal in March 2008, but it was shelved when the deterioration of the financial markets consumed the SEC’s time,” Reuters reports. “The SEC staff is still in the early stages of developing the plan, and is unsure whether they will simply dust off the old proposal, or write a new one.”

ETF providers have grumbled about how long it typically takes to get new products approved by the SEC, as well as the costs. Last year, the SEC hired a so-called ETF Czar, fueling hopes the regulator would speed up the process. Barry Pershkow is a senior special counsel on ETFs in the SEC’s Investment Management Division, and he was previously an attorney for ETF manager ProShares. [SEC May Speed ETF Approvals]

SEC officials say they have been trying to streamline the ETF approval process and move the simple applications more quickly, Reuters reported Tuesday. “There are certain alternative funds that are investing in asset classes that are raising interesting and complicated issues, but by and large, it’s a four-to-six months and sometimes shorter process,” Pershkow said in the story.

In the past it could take up to a year to launch new ETFs. [Active ETFs Stuck in Limbo at SEC]

The SEC’s 2008 proposal would allow certain types of ETFs to bypass the process of getting the necessary “exemptive relief” from the SEC to launch.

“That would help issuers and their sponsors because they wouldn’t have to incur the costs to file exemptive applications with us,” said Norm Champ, the director of the SEC’s Investment Management Division, in the Reuters article.”And if we could get some of this relief codified, it would also free staff up.”

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