The Competition Commission of India (CCI) organised a National Conference on Competition Law as part of the ongoing Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM) here today.
Shri Rao Inderjit Singh, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation; Ministry of Planning and Minister of State for Corporate Affairs was the Chief Guest on the occasion.
The Union Minister of State released a film capturing the 13 years of the Commission’s journey, in addition to releasing the special edition of Fair Play, the quarterly newsletter of CCI, themed on AKAM, as well as competition advocacy booklets in regional languages. He also felicitated the winners of the essay and quiz competitions held earlier.
Shri Singh, in his address, congratulated MCA and CCI for celebrating the iconic event. He urged that India has to regain its lost glory and become an economic powerhouse. India, on an economic growth metric, is forging ahead of its peers, he said. He mentioned that, historically, before it was colonised, India was an advanced economy with a high share in the world economy. We, as a nation, will be in the league of the most advanced and economically developed nations in the next twenty-five years, as envisioned by our Hon’ble Prime Minister, he said. The Indian government is committed to being a facilitator of business to be able to achieve this vision. The change that has happened since independence is reflected from the fact that agriculture’s contribution to the economy has declined and the manufacturing and services sectors are the major contributors. He hoped that CCI will provide institutional support to facilitate this transition by ensuring well-functioning markets. He commended CCI’s efforts in metamorphosising from the erstwhile MRTP Act into a modern competition law suitable for a modern market economy. Concluding his address, the Union Minister implored the citizens of India to work in unison to make India a better nation for the generations to come.
Earlier, Chairperson, CCI, in his address welcomed the dignitaries and reaffirmed the unwavering commitment of CCI to protect the interests of all stakeholders by making markets work well. The Chairperson emphasised that, as we enter “Amrit Kaal,” there is a need to constantly strategise and retool ourselves to provide the necessary institutional support for well-functioning markets. Given the potential growth in trade and technology in the coming years, and in view of the possibility that several sectors still not open to real competition may also see new entry and activity, the role of the agency is set to expand substantially, he said. He further stated that we have to do everything possible to meet the challenge.
He also highlighted that CCI has developed a sound body of jurisprudence through its review of over 1100 antitrust cases. With increasing use of forensic tools, data analytics, and dawn raids to aid the investigation process, coupled with incentivising self-reporting through the leniency programme, the enforcement regime is now well-equipped to uncover cartels, he said. As India emerges as one of the biggest and fastest-growing digital consumer bases, market distortions need to be corrected promptly, he stated. At the same time, while addressing the competition problems in technology markets, due regard must be given to aspects of innovation and efficiency.
Mergers and acquisitions are crucial instruments for investment flows, creating economic synergies and contributing to the processes of industrial development, he said. They also help create scale economies for firms, which are crucial for competing in today’s globalised economic order. CCI acts as a facilitator in this process through expeditious assessment of combination filings. The compliance burden has been reduced through the system of Green Channel, and the focus is on procedural simplification, speedy disposal, and lessening compliance. Besides, revised guidance notes have been issued, clarifying various aspects of combination filings. He further said that, in the near future, CCI will release FAQs on various issues, which will be available in regional languages as guided by the Union Finance Minister during the MCA Iconic Day celebrations.
The Chairperson said that, in order to bridge information gaps, CCI will proactively engage with stakeholders through more market studies and curated workshops. In view of the growing number of cases and complexities of the digital sector as well as the increasing need for data and technology skills, CCI is planning to set up a dedicated digital markets as a centre of expertise. He also underlined the importance of CCI participating in policy deliberations and engaging with various arms of the government for promoting a culture of competition. The Chairperson, in his concluding remarks, stated that it is the endeavour of CCI to build a harmonised, trust-based regime for the industry.
Shri Rajesh Verma, Secretary MCA, delivered the special address on the occasion and complimented CCI for holding the AKAM and Jan Bhagidari advocacy events and mentioned that, since the launch of AKAM, CCI has conducted more than 250 advocacy programmes across India, which is the highest number of programmes conducted by any regulator under MCA, engaging stakeholders from various quarters and using technology to the fullest extent. He acknowledged the role played by the Indian industry and entrepreneurs, especially the private sector’s contribution in nation building, and stated that MCA is committed to providing an enabling regulatory framework that facilitates the corporate sector to function productively. He said that the focus and design of competition law has changed fundamentally, i.e., to protect competition rather than curb monopolies and ensure a level playing field regardless of whether the enterprise is domestic or foreign, public or private, and leaves lesser discretion with government functionaries. He said that the Commission regulates the exit strategies of companies, i.e., mergers, acquisitions, amalgamations, etc., and plays a key role even at the insolvency resolution stage.
He commended CCI for being an effective and credible regulator in a relatively short span of time. He made special mention of the advocacy initiatives of the Commission, particularly the State Resource Person Scheme. He spoke about the necessity of strong international cooperation in a globalised world and the various MoUs signed between CCI and other competition regulators. In his concluding remarks, the Secretary placed confidence in the workings of the Commission and said that an institution like CCI can be a propelling force to aid a culture of competition.
Earlier, the Welcome Address was delivered by Smt. Jyoti Jindgar Bhanot, Secretary, CCI, followed by an address by Shri Ashok Kumar Gupta, Chairperson, CCI, where he spelt out the various initiatives undertaken by CCI. The Special Address was delivered by Shri Rajesh Verma, Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), and the Inaugural Address was delivered by the Union Minister of State for Corporate Affairs Shri Rao Inderjit Singh. Hon’ble Mr. Justice Rakesh Kumar, Member (Judicial), Hon’ble Mr. Kanthi Narahari, Member (Technical), and Hon’ble Dr. Ashok Kumar Mishra, Member (Technical), National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, also graced the occasion.
The National Conference also featured two panel discussions. The session on ‘Emerging Issues in Antitrust Enforcement’ was chaired by Dr. Sangeeta Verma, Member, CCI, and moderated by Ms. Nisha Poddar, Editor, CNBC TV18. The session on ‘Emerging Issues in Regulation of Combinations’ was chaired by Shri Bhagwant Singh Bishnoi, Member, CCI, and moderated by Shri Arijit Barman, Deputy Resident Editor, The Economic Times.
The panel discussions saw engaging discussions and dialogue between the distinguished panellists on a range of contemporary and emerging competition law issues. Panellists and moderators represented the legal fraternity, industry, business, and academia.