November 14, 2005, Western Times

The idea to have a National Competition Policy for India is good, and the Planning Commission will take up this policy issue in its approach paper for the 11th Five-Year Plan, observed Anwarul Hoda, Member, Planning Commission. Hoda was commenting on a presentation on National Competition Policy for India made by Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International at the Yojana Bhavan on Friday 11 November.

The suggestion to do a competition audit (assessment) of all government policies and practices on the touchstone of competition principles is worthwhile, observed Hoda.

Mehta, in his presentation, outlined the need for a National Competition Policy to provide a declared intent to the government’s resolve of promoting competition in the market. India has been following market-oriented economic reforms for over a decade, but government policies continue to be framed and implemented without acknowledging the market process. Mehta gave several examples of government policies and practices that thwart the market process.

The guiding principles to formulate policies and practices in a liberalised regime are missing, observed Mehta. He outlined nine principles of Competition Policy to fill the policy vacuum, and rationalise the role of the government (Centre as well as States).

Officers from the Ministry of Company Affairs, Department of Economic Affairs, Planning Commission, and the Competition Commission of India (CCI), attended the presentation.

Welcoming the need for a National Competition Policy for India, V.K. Dhall, Member, CCI, observed that besides ensuring efficiency and thereby sustained economic growth, a well articulated competition policy would also serve to enhance consumer welfare.

The process of liberalisation and deregulation are incomplete without a competition policy, and there is a need for a larger policy framework to guide the formulation and implementation of government policy, observed Dr Suman Bery, Director-General, NCAER.

Prof TCA Anant from the Delhi School of Economics observed that the nine principles would serve as a good touchstone for framing and harmonizing the various government policies. Anant added that competition is not the ultimate goal, and there may be justified deviations from the competition policy principles. However, it is important to notify and publicly justify such deviations. Hoda concurred with this view.