Competition Advocacy

The Author is Yukti Kohli from School of Law Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal. 

The main elements of the modern competition law are restrictive trade agreement, dominance and its abuse, merger and advocacy. Advocacy involves the influence ability of the competition authority to follow the decision of the government and to influence the behaviour of the enterprise. Competition agencies rely upon competition advocacy across the world for engendering competition culture and progress.

The term competition advocacy includes all activities of a competition agency which are intended to promote competition apart from those that involves enforcement of competition law and therefore we can say that competition advocacy aims at promoting pro competition measures in the economy. The competition authority must participate more broadly in the formulation of countries economic policies which are likely to affect competitive market structure, business conduct and economic profile performance. The competition advocacy must work in such a way that it brings government policies into force which helps to lower barriers to entry, promote deregulation and trade liberalisation which therefore leads to less intervention of government in the marketplace. Competition advocacy help in spreading competition culture in the market places.

The objective of competition policy is today’s world is to understand competition issues and to provide power to competition agencies to participate in formulation of the country‘s economic policies and to promote friendly competition. Competition advocacy measures can vary in the form of guidance which will help to Improve and accept the competition rules by the stakeholders. This competition advocacy is a core instrument to address public as well as private restriction on competition and promoting competitive markets.

Origin of competition advocacy
Competition law enforcement is much older than competition advocacy. Competition advocacy effects date back to the early decades of 20 century. The concept of competition advocacy has recent origin which gained its acceptance in developing economies.

Objective of competition advocacy
·         To raise the general awareness about competition issues among regulators judiciary, public and private stakeholders.
·         To enable the competition agencies to participate in the formulation of economic policy of a country.
·         To promote friendly competition.
·         To promote legislation Acceptance with acceptability of competition rules by the stakeholders.
·         To promote active involvement of competition Agencies in regulatory impact assessment process.

Competition Advocacy in India
Clearly provides the power to the competition commission to eliminate any practises that lead to adverse effect on competition. Competition commission must promote the interest of consumers and ensure freedom of trade market therefore the commission have a pro active duty to act against anti competitive forces that are prevailing in the market. Further the advocacy provisions present in the act enable the competition commission to participate in formulation of countries economic policies and to take part in reviewing pertaining laws to competition at the central as well as at the state level. The commission with the help of government policies tries to lower barriers to entry in the market and try to promote deregulation and trade liberalisation so that Competition can be enforced in the market.

In situations like quasi federal policies such as India the state government also have the power to bring Centre policies and laws at the sub-national level thereby affecting the interest of the consumers. By amending section 49 state government also plays a powerful Role in competition advocacy as amendment policies can be made at the national as well as at the sub national level and promote harmony between the Central and state policies on the foundation of competition principles.

Section 49 sub section (1), the opinion given by the commission shall have only persuasive value and thereby not making it binding upon the central government or the state government. Therefore the governments are not bound to follow the opinion which is made by the commission and this leads and bringing openness, transparency and increasing creditability to the advocacy process. This also helps in including the competition principles in the formulation of economic policies and laws at the national level and at sub national level.

For promoting competition advocacy and for creating awareness about competition issues the act enjoys the power of establishment of fund which is known as competition fund and this one is credited with the fee that is received for filing complaints and applications of other.
Therefore the act aims at making a direct relation between competition advocacy and enforcement of competition law.

·         CCI must develop relationship with ministries which formulate policies that efforts demand and supply position in various markets.
·         CCI must promote debates on competition issues.
·         CCI must publish news in relation with competition advocacy CCI must have good relations with media through which they can explain the role and importance of policies framework.

On 14 April 2013 the competition commission of India was established by the central government. The commission make comments on competition issues in some sectors such as Post and telegraph, shipping, trade practises, broadcasting, petroleum, natural gas, warehousing etc. The commission has also approached the University grants commission and national Council for educational research and training to include study of competition law and policy in the curriculum of college and school respectively. There are been different studies which are been going. Until now 18 studies are commissioned out of which 12 has been completed and six are undergoing. Of the 12 studies that has been completed six are sector specific covering the manufacturing sector in general.

The commission in order to promote competition at state level has requested all the states to appoint an officer of the level of Secretary to government as the nodal officer for competition advocacy. Presently 20 state government and union territories have nodal department for competition and it has appointed nodal officers appointed for competition. on 31 January 2006 a national level meeting for advocacy was held in New Delhi whereby 20 states had participated, through which they had ordered officers of competition advocacy to constitution  state advisory committee where Competition issues can be decide at state level.

The commission has initiated the following advocacy activities
·         To promote commission culture called as competition culture.
·         CCI has organise training programs for officers of Central and state government‘s involved in policy-making.
·         CCI has organised workshops or seminars for generating awareness among different stakeholders.
·         CCI publishes booklets on relevant issues.

The nodal departments which were created at the state level for creating awareness about competition at State level has become ornamental bodies as their functions are not yet been defined in any manner. The commission should conduct its advocacy role in an open, transparent and focused manner backed by solid research and support of data to safeguard its credibility and gain more respect.