Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said cartelisation is likely to be a big challenge as the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict have led to a global shortage of commodities and raw materials. Addressing the 13th Annual Day commemoration of the Competition Commission of India (CCI), the commodities prices have been rising globally due to several factors.
She said cartelisation would pose threat to economic recovery. “The situation is such that because of the global shortage of commodities, the raw material and such commodities, which are so critical at the transitional stage for the economy are becoming greater, also because the global disruption in the value chains and supply chains are so severely affected not because of the pandemic, but also because of the war situation we’re living in Eastern Europe,” she said.
Sitharaman referred to the shortage of chip faced by the automobile industry. “There are many stages at which disruptions are coming,” she said. Sitharaman underlined three actionable areas to achieve the public policy goal of competition. First, she emphasised that, in order to speed up recovery, companies need to scale up. She said that scaling up is already happening, and CCI should have a proactive understanding of what is shaping markets in this process, especially in M&As.
Second, the Finance Minister said that, in today’s context, when the government is pushing infrastructure growth to scale up demand, there is a possibility of threat from cartelisation. She underlined her concerns that input costs are rising despite India having a huge capacity to cater to both domestic and export demands. Sitharaman highlighted that there is a global shortage of commodities due to the pandemic, and now, following the war in Eastern Europe, the supply chain has been adversely affected. She said that there is a need to look into these and ensure that there are no monopolistic/duopolistic tendencies leading to price rise and supply-side manipulations.
The Finance Minister also spoke about the challenges posed by digitisation. She said that India has made a brand name for itself, be it in fintech or in adopting digital tools such as artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoTs). She particularly cited how Aadhar, India Stack, and other necessary digital public infrastructure support have been harbingers of the digital revolution.
She called upon CCI to understand the technological nuances of the new digital era and whether these markets are being fairly, effectively, and transparently used for the benefit of consumers. Stressing the importance of transparency, Sitharaman highlighted the benefits of FAQs, which can become a permanent tool of advocacy. (ANI)
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