CCI constantly honing its toolkit to tackle digital market challenges: Chairperson

NEW DELHI, Oct 15: The Competition Commission is constantly honing its toolkit to meet the challenges emanating from digital markets and plans to hire data scientists and algorithm experts for its upcoming digital markets and data unit, the regulator’s chief Ashok Kumar Gupta said on Saturday.
In recent times, many cases related to technology markets have come up before the Competition Commission of India (CCI), including online marketplace platforms, app stores, payment gateways, online travel, food aggregators and social networking.
“Such cases pertain to issues such as self-preferencing, leveraging, data-collection practices, deep discounting, etc.
“As market regulators, we cannot overlook the challenges that market power and business practices of gatekeeper platforms pose to other market participants — those who are competing with them and, more so, those who deal with them (and rely upon them),” he said.
Speaking at a conference organised by the CCI and industry body Assocham, Gupta stressed that the regulator is constantly honing its antitrust and merger toolkit to meet these challenges and, in doing so, benchmarking itself with global best practices.
Among other efforts, the regulator is in the process of setting up a dedicated Digital Markets and Data Unit (DMDU).
“In addition to our staff from the law, economics, and finance streams, we plan to staff the unit with new professional profiles such as data scientists, algorithm experts, etc,” the CCI chairperson said.
Since it started functioning 13 years ago, CCI has reviewed more than 1,200 anti-trust cases and 965 combination filings.
Some of the key sectors where the regulator has made interventions are cement, tyre, real estate, pharma, entertainment, coal, and digital markets.
The CCI chief emphasised that businesses need to adopt compliance practices that inspire trust between the regulator and the industry.
“To make a trust-based regime sustainable, it is imperative that businesses adopt proactive competition compliance as an important element of corporate governance strategy. This will also help them compete globally.
“The Indian Competition Act encourages this mutual meaningful relationship between competition and corporate governance,” Gupta said, adding that with its ex-post enforcement regime, the regulator has been able to develop a substantive body of anti-trust jurisprudence.
Further, he said while enforcing the law, CCI is “conscious that onerous procedures and processes do not create regulatory cholesterol.”
For simplifying procedures, several steps have been taken in the past few years that have helped ease compliances and facilitate speedy disposal.
“The Commission’s endeavour has been to regulate but not burden businesses with unnecessary compliance,” he added.
He also highlighted various amendments proposed in the competition law, including introducing the provision for settlement and commitment.
As part of boosting its outreach, CCI has so far opened three regional offices — in Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.
According to Gupta, it is expected that the State Resource Persons Scheme will facilitate the framing of competition coherent policies at the state level, particularly in the area of public procurement. (PTI)