India’s economic strategies should not be compared with China’s or Singapore’s, and so the Competition Commission must be “dynamic” to the evolving changes, commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday.
“There is nothing like a pro-business or anti-business stand in policy making and that the ultimate interest to be served is that of consumers,” Sitharaman said addressing a conference on “Economics of Competition Law”.
The government is balancing the privatisation process with supporting the private sector in terms of providing level-playing field, she said.
Under the evolving scenario, she said CCI needs to continue to be a “dynamic” regulatory institution keeping in view the stage of economic development of the country and the diversity of the economy.
She urged CCI to develop sectoral understanding and engage sector experts for this purpose.
“India cannot and should not be compared to other countries like Singapore or China who have followed different development strategies than ours in the past,” she said.
She stressed on the need to balance the needs of opening up the economy to international competition with the other socio-economic requirements of the nation.
The transition from the MRTP Act of 1969 to the Competition Act of 2002 has been nuanced and reflects the change in the economic policy stance of the government, she said.
Highlighting the importance of fair competition in public procurement that accounts for 30% of India’s GDP, Sitharaman complimented the CCI for its recent orders in cases of bid-rigging in public procurement of cement and mentioned that the Commission’s orders should have a preventive effect which should deter infringements by the enterprises.
Chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian highlighted the distinction between pro-business and pro-competition policies, complementarities between trade policy and competition policy, importance of ease of exit for competition and the need for effective regulatory mechanisms in the wake of rapid digitalisation and advancement of technologies.
CCI chairperson Devender Kumar Sikri said the regulator was assessing policies, laws and regulations relating to different sectors of the Indian economy from competition perspective.
CCI will discuss with the NITI Aayog for this purpose, he said adding the objective is to identify unnecessary and obsolete regulatory restrictions as also to suggest pro-competitive regulatory reforms that would contribute to the nation’s larger agenda of improving ease of doing business and propelling economic growth.
The Competition Commission of India, the fair-play regulator of the nation, was established with the mandate to prevent practices having adverse effect on competition, to promote and sustain competition in markets, to protect the interest of consumers and to ensure freedom of trade of market participants in India.
The Commission has received 488 merger cases and 791 cases of alleged anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position.