(FM) - Regulatory oversight should be regularly fine-tuned with changing times to suit the dynamic business environment, especially in the present digital world, stated Shri Ashok Kumar Gupta, Chairperson, Competition Commission of India (CCI) at the 6th International 2-Day Virtual Conference-2021 on ‘Competition Law: Risk, Challenges and The Way Forward’, organised by the Associated Chamber of Industry and Commerce (ASSOCHAM).
Speaking at the event, Gupta stated that competition is the life force of markets that creates the best incentives for businesses to increase efficiency, drives their productivity and fuels innovation.
“Despite its all-encompassing benefits, healthy competition may not emerge on its own. Even the most ardent votaries of a market economy recognise that liberalised markets cannot be presumed to be competitive and efficient,” he said.
Shri Gupta explained that without oversight and necessary intervention, we could witness a chaotic environment, where dominant firms misuse their market power to fence out competition, cartels drive up prices or anti-competitive mergers weaken the competitive structure of markets, resulting in businesses getting affected and consumers being deprived of value for money. “The objective of CCI is to bring about market corrections where fair competition is found to be hindered due to anti-competitive conduct,” he said.
According to Shri Gupta, data hegemony by some digital companies may lead to an “attention economy”, in which Big Tech players work to capture users’ attention, build profiles of their choices and habits, then sell those profiles to advertisers. “The CCI has a very important role in ensuring that these platforms remain neutral, offer a level playing field and allow enterprises, big and small, that access consumers through these platforms, to compete on the basis of merits,” he pointed out.
He explained that in these fast-evolving and dynamic markets, a regulator’s task is much like hitting at moving targets. “The regulatory stance needs to be nuanced, and the enforcement toolbox needs to be adapted to these changes so that the instrumentality remains fit for purpose. The challenge is to keep abreast of the developments in these markets and continue to evolve and refine the tools,” Shri Gupta mentioned.
He further added that this will help make timely interventions and strike a fine balance so that efficiency and innovation are not stifled while markets are free from anti-competitive practices.