Enemy of competition is enemy to the economy: Chairperson, IBBI

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Competition Commission of India (CCI) along with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) organized a ‘Roadshow on Competition Law and Practice’ on 30 November, 2019. 
 
Addressing the Roadshow, Ashok Kumar Gupta, Chairperson, CCI, emphasized that CCI has left no stone unturned to create a culture of competition law compliance within enterprises which include constituting Competition Law Review Committee to review the existing framework to further strengthen the framework to inter-alia meet new economic challenges. He stated that the Committee has submitted its report and the progressive amendments to the law is very soon.  Introduction of Green Channel for combination notifications is to introduce fast paced regulatory approval of merger and acquisitions. Mr Gupta stated that CCI, as a regulator has completed 10 years and review over 1000 anti-trust cases, around 670 merger cases and have held 720 advocacy events to disseminate information on competition law and its evolving framework. CCI is perceptive regulator and has strived to nurture a culture of competition in markets through credible antitrust enforcement and regular engagement with stakeholders. The Commission frequently solicits and takes cognizance of the stakeholders’ insights. 
Gupta also spoke about CCI’s Diagnostic Toolkit to serve as a guidance tool for procurement agencies towards aligning their procurement systems with best practices in terms of competition. Further he said, besides traditional market sectors, the Commission has also set up a think tank to look at e-commerce, big data, and the digital economy.
 
 
MS Sahoo, Chairperson, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India and also a member of Competition Law Review Committee in his special address emphasised that the life of company is precious hence businessman should strive to save the company from unfair competition. He mentioned that Competition Act has four essential compartments-anti competitive agreements, abuse of dominance, regulation of combinations and competition advocacy. The present Competition Law has marked drastic shift from its Predecessor Statute i.e. MRTP Act to bring Indian Anti -rust law in line with new domestic economic policies and global best practices. Mr Sahoo mentioned that higher the competition, lead to higher innovation. He emphasised that market must decide the price and quantity, if something is doing unfair practice in determining price and quantity, its affecting the economy and the entire system. Enemy of competition is enemy to the economy. However, at the same time Competition law also aims to provide economic freedom. Economic freedom is important to start business, continue business and also to exit for providing ease in doing business. He gave the reference of pre-datory pricing which is not itself incorrect but not allowing freedom to others doing business, by reducing the prices below the cost for longer time is what deteriorate competition, which if allowed will lead to many entities into liquidation. Mr. Sahoo also spoke that under the IBC, CCI has granted speedy approvals to multiple applications for the same assets keeping in mind the timelines. While appreciating the role of CCI as a market regulator ensuring level playing field, he noted that the CCI’s aim is to achieve fair markets, and the penalties imposed are means to achieve this end, as this ultimately benefits consumers. 
 
Deepak Jacob, Member, CII National Committee on Regulatory Affairs & Chief Regional Counsel India, The Walt Disney Company, stated that with the growth and diversification of the Indian industry, sector regulators have an ever-increasing role and impact on innovation and growth. The CCI as a market regulator has the responsibility of ensuring economic development of markets in a fair, transparent and hygienic manner with consumer interest and competition at its core. Hence, an institutional framework for collaboration between the CCI as market regulator and the sector regulators would go a long way in promoting and sustaining competition. He emphasised on the importance of industry and other stakeholder participation in the development of competition law policy, enforcement and compliance culture. He acknowledged the pro-industry changes to the Combinations Regulations where in line with CII recommendations, status quo has been has maintained on the Combinations Regulations relating to exemption of certain categories of transactions involving minority since these are likely to have no anti-competitive effects on the market. Jacob also highlighted the key recommendations of report of CLRC i.e. introducing dedicated bench in NCLAT to hear appeals under Competition Act, additional mechanism of ‘Settlement and Commitments’ for speedier resolution of cases, guidelines on imposition of penalty to ensure transparency etc. in light of the general move towards strengthening the Competition law in India.
 
Earlier delivering the welcome remark Dr. Ajit Ranade, Group Executive President & Chief Economist, Aditya Birla Group congratulated the Commission for its completion of ten years since the notification of substantial provisions of Competition Act. Ranade stated that CCI has played a major role not only enforcing but also in promoting a culture of compliance among enterprises in India. Elaborating the initiatives of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) he congratulated the Government and CCI for constantly reviewing the regulations to align them with changing times and business economics. He also discussed the issues of ‘big data’ and its treatment as an asset in determining market power; issues of analytics and artificial intelligence and pricing alogorithms in the current context. He also spoke about government initiatives to strengthen the existing Competition Law framework. This is aligned with the government’s aim of improving the ease of doing business in India, which is borne out through a slew of recent economic legislation. He mentioned that this year India has moved 14 places to be 63rd among 190 nations in the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking released in last month on the back of multiple economic reforms by the government. He further mentioned that the working of the Commission and Competition Law have to be in harmony with the evolving business environment and Indian Economy.
 
Plenary Sessions on ‘Cartels and Leniency’, ‘Merger Control’ and Sectors in Focus-Media, Broadcasting and Entertainment’ were also organized during the Roadshow. During these sessions, experts of competition law from Industry, law firms and CCI deliberated co-operation and dialogue between the ‘regulator’ and ‘industry’ as vital to promote a culture of competition compliance in India. The panellists also emphasized that India competition regime has been relatively new but has very quickly learnt and adopted from the mature jurisdictions, with the ultimate motive of engagement with stakeholders to ease of doing business in India.
 
Dr. Sangeeta Verma, Member, CCI, Manish Mohan Govil, Adviser(Law), CCI, Jyoti Jindgar, Adviser, CCI, Ms. Payal Malik, Adviser(Economics) & Head Economic Division, CCI and other Senior Officials of CCI were also amongst the moderators/penalists during the day-long Roadshow which was attended by around 200 participants from the industry; legal professionals, corporate lawyers, academics, law students. Display of various kiosks and screening of films by CCI were also part of the Roadshow. 

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