Competition regulators push for reforms to ensure greater compliance

Economic Times, January 13, 2017

India ’s competition regulators are pushing for reforms to existing competition practice to ensure greater compliance and strengthen provisions with respect to cartelisation and advocacy in the Competition Act.

“Changes are required. One is regarding collective dominance, because we are finding that cartels are extremely difficult to catch and punish,” Competition Commission of India (CCI) member Augustine Peter said at an event on Thursday.

“Many cases of collective dominance issues come and we don’t have the (required) provisions. This was proposed and the parliamentary committee also recommended but unfortunately, then the government changed.”

Rajeev Kher, member of the Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT), echoed similar views as he spoke of the need to popularise competition discourse and awareness.

“We have constrained ourselves into a case-by-case approach to deal with sectoral competition issues,” he said, criticising the approach to dealing with competition-related or antitrust cases at the CCI or COMPAT stages. “We don’t follow a system whereby (the regulator’s) enforcement covers an entire sector.”

Kher stressed the need for the idea of competition to “percolate into business practices” to ensure higher compliance. The rules also need to keep in pace with developments in technology, he added.

DK Sikri, chairperson of the CCI, highlighted similar issues at an earlier event, where he said: “One of the common challenges before all the competition authorities emerges from the digital markets as well as the disruptive technologies.”

The event, organised by non-profit CUTS International, was also attended by Frederic Jenny, chairman of the OECD Competition Committee, and Allan Fels, ex-chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

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