Regulators need to be independent, but accountable: CCI

PTI, December 27, 2012

Amid debate over regulatory turfs, Competition Commission chief Ashok Chawla Wednesday said that independence is important for regulators but they should not consider themselves as mini-states.

Chawla, chairman of Competition Commission of India (CCI), said regulators need to be accountable to Parliament.

CCI keeps a tab on anti-competitive pracitces in the market. Recently, there have been differences between CCI and electricity regulator CERC over regulating some areas of the power sector. There have been similar issues involving other regulators as well.

“One cannot have a state of affairs where regulators consider themselves as ultimate state because (sometimes) they have the powers of executive, sometimes they have the powers of judiciary and sometimes they have the powers of legislature also…,” Chawla said at a function organised by NGO CUTS International here.

He said that autonomy and accountability are equally important for regulators, as it can’t be anybody’s case that regulators are a “mini-state” and they can get away with anything, because they are not accountable to anybody.

Regulators need to be, should be and have to be accountable in a larger democratic framework to Parliament, Chawla said. “It is important that they (regulators) are accountable to an appropriate forum and an appropriate body.”

Chawla also said that the quality of regulators is very important. “What is very important is the quality of the regulator, the whole principle, architecture ultimately depends on the calibre, quality and the professional capability of those who are going to actually carry on the process of regulation.”

He also stressed that competition at market place cannot be a substitute for regulations but a tool for achieving efficiency and social policy objectives.

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