Race for CCI top job hots up, Virmani among frontrunners

Financial Express, July 04, 2008

By Neha Pal & Arun S

The race for the prestigious post of chairman, Competition Commission of India (CCI)— the regulator to take action against anti-competitive activities—is hotting up. Among the front-runners is Arvind Virmani, chief economic advisor to the finance ministry.

Prominent among others being considered for the top post are Gajendra Haldea, advisor (infrastructure) Planning Commission, Dhanendra Kumar, executive director of World Bank and Pradeep S Mehta, director general, CUTS Institute for regulation and Competition, sources told FE. Virmani, a doctorate in economics from Harvard University, had served earlier as the principal advisor in the Planning Commission as well as being the director and chief executive of Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, a Delhi-based think-tank. He was also a recipient of Padma Bhushan. During 1991-93, Virmani was also adviser to the then finance minister Manmohan Singh on policy planning and played a role in the country’s economic liberalisation. When contacted, Virmani said, “for the one year that remains till my superannuation (in June 2009), I want to complete the things that I had in mind when I took on the job in July 2007.”

Haldea’s work has been mainly in the infrastructure sector. Earlier, he had served as a chief advisor and Head of the Center for Infrastructure and Regulation at National Council for Applied Economic Research and was a member of the Expert group under the Chairmanship of Rakesh Mohan on Commercialisation of infrastructure. Besides, he was instrumental in the drafting of the Foreign Exchange Management Bill enacted by Parliament.

Dhanendra Kumar’s tenure at the World Bank is coming to a close this month, while Pradeep Mehta has over two decades of experience in policy research and advocacy on economic and legal matters regarding competition laws, consumer protection and international trade.

When CCI becomes fully operational, most likely by this year-end, it would replace MRTPC. Last month, the ministry of corporate affairs had called for applications for holding senior posts in CCI from candidates not over 62 years of age and having 15 years of experience in competition laws. Besides Chairman and five members, the CCI would have around 240 experts in law, finance and economics in order to be completely operational.

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