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The Asian Age, February 10, 2017
Day 2: International Conference on Reviewing the Global Experience on Economic Regulation
“India, an emerging economy, is witnessing fast-paced changes in demography, per capita income and technology. These changes drive the market dynamics and the consequent issues to be regulated in a very substantial manner. Thereby requiring a regulator to keep in mind not only the issues to be regulated immediately but also those which may arise in 25-20 years from now,” said J S Sarma, Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. He was speaking on the second day at an International Conference on “Reviewing the Global Experience on Economic Regulation”, orgnised by CUTS International and CUTS Institute for Regulation & Competition. More than 60 experts from around the world are taking part in deliberations on diverse issues of economic regulation.
The day’s discussion included three contemporary themes: the role of competition law & policy in promoting economic growth, sectoral regulatory experiences from different countries, and the interface between competition and sectoral regulators.
Highlighting the experiences of different countries, Kenneth Davidson, a former antitrust regulator from the US, said that competition law has a complimentary relationship with other economic policies which promote economic liberalization and growth. Further elucidating the theme and from a developing country perspective, Deunden Nikomborirak, Director of Thailand Development Research Institute, said that it is critical for a government to distinguish between firm specific, sector specific and activity specific regulatory policies. She underscored that activity specific support and promotion, such as R&D support, training etc, enhances overall welfare in a country particularly small and medium enterprises. Also it emerged that in order to boost regulatory effectiveness; capacity of consumer groups is an essential pre-condition. Other countries have experimented in and reaped rewards of equipping consumer groups to participate in regulatory process.
Regulatory issues in natural gas, in the context of India and other countries were discussed amongst issues from other sectors. Devendra Kodwani, a UK-based researcher explained the transformation of the gas market in the UK. During 1948-1986, there was a monopsonist and monopolist market which was sought to be replaced by private market during 1986-1995. However, no restructuring was done. Finally, during 1986-1999 competition was ensured after a lot of efforts that also included litigation in the courts. In India, regulation of natural gas exploration and marketing is fraught with lack of competition and objectivity in regulation of prices etc.