With the privatisation of public sector undertakings underway, the sale and disinvestment should not distort the principles of competition, 15th Finance Commission Chairman N K Singh said on Friday, while calling for strengthening the Competition Act to evolve the role of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) as an overarching regulator.
Stressing that competition policy is critical for economic framework as the markets are imperfect, Singh said, “It may not be appropriate to have an overarching regulator or override sector regulator, but what about on issues of competition? Who should be the final arbitrator?”
Singh was addressing the sixth edition of the national conference on economics of competition law. The disinvestment and privatisation programme, Singh said, would free valuable financial resources, creating fiscal space for the government for its priority capital expenditure — both physical and social infrastructure — while also generating enhanced competition. On the issue of a handful of companies acquiring most of the stressed assets, Singh said addressing this requires a coherent coordinated approach and the CCI alone cannot do it.
“The Ministry of Finance, which lays down the policy framework, has to be brought in the picture along with financial regulators such as RBI and Sebi.”
CCI Chairman Ashok Gupta said the anti-trust regulator has recently taken up “the task of assisting policies laws and regulations relating to different sectors of the economy from a competition perspective”.