Economy

Citing Centre’s infra push, FM flags the possibility of ‘cartelisation’ threat

BL New Delhi Bureau | Updated on: May 20, 2022
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses the 13th Annual Day function of Competition Commission of India (CCI), in New Delhi, on Friday

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses the 13th Annual Day function of Competition Commission of India (CCI), in New Delhi, on Friday | Photo Credit: -

Asks CCI to go behind real reasons for supply disruptions

As the country grapples with runaway inflation of commodities and food items that threaten to affect the economic recovery, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has urged the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to upskill themselves in handling new challenges in the fast-changing domestic and international business landscape post the pandemic and amid geopolitical tensions.

CCI should have a “proactive understanding” of what is shaping markets in the ongoing recovery, especially in mergers and acquisition (M&As), Sitharaman advised.

Rising prices

Addressing CCI’s 13th annual day function in the national capital, Sitharaman also flagged the possibility of threat from cartelisation, especially when the government is ramping up spend on infrastructure to scale up demand.

She also wanted CCI to ensure that the global shortage of commodities and supply chain disruptions do not end up in monopolistic/duopolistic tendencies leading to price rise and supply side manipulations.

Sitharaman expressed concern that input costs are rising despite India having a huge capacity to cater to both domestic and export demands.

Digitisation

The minister also highlighted the challenges posed by digitisation and called upon CCI to understand the technological nuances and whether these markets are being fairly, effectively, and transparently used for the benefit of consumers.

Stressing the importance of transparency, Sitharaman highlighted the benefits of FAQs, which can become a permanent tool of advocacy. These should be used to disseminate information on a ready-to-use basis. This would strengthen CCI’s position as a proactive and progressive regulator, and such guidance will help market players take preventive measures, she said, adding that CCI should always be sensitive, but firm in its approach.

Competition in markets

Rajesh Verma, Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, said CCI has made tremendous efforts to build a culture of competition in markets. He stated that competition law is a critical component of any economic regulatory architecture and infuses dynamic efficiencies.

He also outlined the robustness of the Competition Act, 2002, and various remedial measures that can be taken by CCI, but stressed that these powers be used judiciously. Verma noted the critical interventions in antitrust enforcement done by CCI over the years and that stakeholders are increasingly reposing their trust in the commission as a forum for the redressal of competition-related concerns.

Ashok Kumar Gupta, Chairperson, CCI, stated that a rebound of the economy is underway and now, more than ever, markets should perform well. Antitrust law is aimed at fostering a public good, that is competition, he said. Gupta expressed his confidence that the enforcement of law has been robust yet judicious, with calibrated interventions in some sectors when required, and over the last 13 years, CCI has reviewed over 1,100 antitrust cases, 900 combination filings, and held over 1,200 advocacy events.

Published on May 20, 2022
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