Act on global cos abusing Indian firms: Sitharaman to CCI

New Delhi, August 23 (IANS): Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday asked fair market regulator the Competition Commission of India to guard Indian businesses and consumers against foreign companies, which have no presence in India, by taking suo motu action against them.

"Physical borders no longer determine competition within a country and that way we are not dealing with fair play, as it is. We are dealing with an entity which is outside, probably legally, complying with many of the requirements in the jurisdiction in which it exists, but having an unfair impact, on the consumers here. If that is not abuse, then what can be? And if that abuse is being felt by Indians? 

"In the G20, the whole discussion today is about how you would define operations, how you would define profits or turnovers which are generated in a geographical physical area where one doesn't operate. Physically, you are not present, but you are making a turnover and earning your profits in an area, which is jurisdictionally different from where you are. So if that is the way global competition is evolving and it is not evolving in some way whose impact is not on us, whose impact is so much on us that we are still probably wondering as to how we are going to rein in that kind of, if I may use the word, abuse. It is not always abuse, but it is a smoking gun. That's the smoking gun which governments, not just in India, but also in countries which we think are far ahead of us in understanding competition law are confronting," said Sitharaman. 

She was addressing an event organised to mark the 10th anniversary of the CCI. The minister, who is also in charge of corporate affairs, said the CCI should be ready with a 2.0 action plan to meet the challenges of frontierless economies. 

In recent times, the watchdog has been dealing with many cases in the digital area.

"Every now and then, we get these fantastic cases which have fantastic amount of claims and which also have such dimensions to competition law which many countries, which are the so-called free economies are struggling to understand and disaggregate so that they can handle each aspect. If that is the way it is, and if they also have an impact on us, I think the CCI when I say is going to mark its 2.0 from now, will have to look at two things," she said.

"How many cases would you have started on a suo moto basis? It's just not the number, but also the way in which the Commission has to keep itself alert to many of the developments which are happening globally. I would want the CCI 2.0 to look at what is developing globally and which already is having an impact on us," she said. 

In its recently submitted report, the Competition Law Review Committee headed by MCA Secretary I. Srinivas has recommended automatic CCI approval for most M&A cases, including those under insolvency law.