Oppn to seek changes to Competition Bill during Parliament’s winter session

Updated on Dec 05, 2022 04:55 AM IST

The Bill, which aims to make changes in the Competition Commission of India (CCI)’s role in mergers and acquisitions, among a raft of other reforms, was introduced in the Lok Sabha during the monsoon session in August.

The winter ession is scheduled to begin on December 7 and go on till December 29.
The winter ession is scheduled to begin on December 7 and go on till December 29.
By, New Delhi

Opposition parliamentarians will seek key changes to The Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022, in the winter session of Parliament, senior leaders familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The Bill, which aims to make changes in the Competition Commission of India (CCI)’s role in mergers and acquisitions, among a raft of other reforms, was introduced in the Lok Sabha during the monsoon session in August. The changes are likely to target one of the key proposals in the Bill, which plans to make CCI’s approval mandatory for all merger and acquisitions valued at over 2,000 crore.

Two senior Opposition leaders said they will demand “more clarity on how the deal value, the key to CCI’s intervention, would be determined. The bill should also have a provision for periodic revision of the deal value as price rise or market favourable conditions can rapidly change the value.”

The session is scheduled to begin on December 7 and go on till December 29.

A third Opposition MP said a proposal in the Bill to cut down the time given to CCI for assessing whether the deal would lead to cartelisation or a monopoly should be rejected. “The CCI currently gets 210 days to pass an order. The bill proposes to reduce it to 150 days. This is not needed,” said the senior leader, asking not to be named.

The Bill is currently being reviewed by the parliamentary standing committee on finance, led by former Union Minister Jayant Sinha.

It also proposes to widen the scope of anti-competitive agreements to include a wider range of entities.

A report by NGO PRS Legislative on the Bill states: “Currently, enterprises or persons engaged in similar businesses can be held to be a part of anti-competitive agreements. The Bill expands this to also include enterprises or persons who are not engaged in similar businesses.”

The proposed law also creates a framework for settlement and aims for faster resolution of investigations by the CCI, while it decriminalises certain offences under the Act.

“While we support the overall direction of the Bill, some key changes and more clarifications are required,” said a member of the Congress, arguing that the main law and not the subordinate legislations must give a clear view of how the value of a transaction would be determined. “This is especially important for digital companies,” the Congress MP said.

The PRS report said about digital companies: “Acquisitions in the digital markets are valued based on data or certain business innovation of the company being acquired. Acquisition of such entities may not fall under the purview of traditional thresholds of assets or turnover to evaluate their impact on competition. The Bill proposes to evaluate such deals based on the value of transactions.”

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