Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday called on the regulator to address competition issues arising out of a rapidly-evolving digital market by aligning its steps with the global best practices.
“As we evolve to be a digital economy, the challenges that digitisation brings are also very important for us to address, we can’t ignore them,” the minister said at an event organised by the Competition Commission of India (CCI).
The statement comes at a time when some of the global tech giants are facing a probe by the CCI for alleged anti-competitive practices. In fact, in a presentation before the Parliamentary Committee on finance in April, the CCI had apprised it of a number of investigations it was carrying out in the digital space, including those involving Google, Facebook-WhatsApp, Apple, Amazon, Flipkart, MakeMyTrip-Goibibo, Swiggy, and Zomato.
Sitharaman also stated that the competition regulator also needs to address issues emanating from cross-country mergers and acquisitions fair and square, she said. A proactive CCI brings in the confidence in the minds of people who want to approach it for relief, she added.
“The multi-national nature of activities… where companies are seeking to have interlocking positions in global value chains. There are holding companies, there are new acquisitions, there are mergers happening across the globe.”
Earlier this year, the government introduced in Parliament a new Bill that would effectively tighten rules around mergers and acquisitions and global tech firms operating in India could come under heightened regulatory scrutiny here.
The Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022 proposes that all deals worth over Rs 2,000 crore be subject to antitrust scrutiny if the companies have substantial business operations in India. It also lays out process to ascertain whether an entity has “substantial business operations” in India or not.