Consumer is the cornerstone of competition

New Delhi, October 20, 2010

“Consumer is the cornerstone of competition. The Competition Act of India is a major instrument of demand-based economic governance and consumer organisations have a significant role to make this law more effective,” said Dhanendra Kumar, Chairperson, Competition Commission of India while welcoming the participants to a conference on Competition Regime and Consumers which was held in Delhi. The conference was a first of its kind since it was aimed to reach out to consumer organisations, he added.

More than 30 consumer organisations from different parts of the country and other experts and stakeholders took part in a day-long deliberation. It was organised by the Competition Commission of India, the Department of Consumer Affairs, Government of India and CUTS International, a leading consumer advocacy group working on competition policy and related issues.

Delivering the Inauguarl Address, Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said: “The development of the competition law in India is based on the directive principles of state policy and it has reinforced some of the fundamental principles that our Constitution has guaranteed to our citizens.” There could not be a better way to look at the concerns of the common man than having and implementing a modern competition law, he added. Given the evolving nature of a modern competition law in India, he said that there is a need to address the issues of overlapping jurisdiction between the Competition Commission of India and sectoral regulators.

According to K. V. Thomas, Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, “Competition policy is the fourth cornerstone of economic governance along with monteary, fiscal and state policy.” While delivering the Keynote Address, he added that more efforts should be made to strengthen consumer organisations by other ministries and urged the Competition Commission of India to institutionalise the process of strengtheing the consumer movement in India with respect to the implementation of the competition act.

Dr M Veerappa Moily, Union Law Minister delivered the Presidential Address and remarked that the Indian economy has numerous instances of anti-competitive practices which are reflected in the wild price fluctuations in certain sectors. He referred to commodity sectors such as onion and other agricultural goods where prices have varied abnormally. He opined that CCI has a daunting task to address these anti-competitive conducts and ensure welfare gains.

He said that the process of competition has to be inclusive meaning that it should benefit the marginal consumers and that will be the real test of success of the Competition Act and the CCI. He highlighted the experience of Bangalore when it was emerging as an IT hub. The foundation of the emergence of Bangalore as a global IT hub rests on intense competition and not the lack of it. Similarly, other sectors should benefit from competition instead of shying away from it, he added.

Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary General of CUTS International thanked CCI and Department of Consumer Affairs for their support in organising the event. He underlined the need for a greater political will to take the competition regime forward for the benefit of the common man. He urged the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to adopt 13th January as the National Competition Day. While the Competition Act of India was passed in 2002, the President of India signed the law for its enactment on January 13, 2003.

The objective of the conference was to broad-base the virtues of competition culture by sensiting consumer groups and other stakeholders on the benefits of competition to the common man as consumers. It has come out with an action plan and urged the CCI and Department of Consumer Affairs to empower the Indian consumer movement for better implementation of the competition act so that its benefits can reach the people at large.

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