BUSA calls for investor certainty as Competition Amendment Bill heads to Parliament

Cape Town – Business Unity SA (BUSA) has called for investor certainty and stability as government prepares to put the Competition Amendment Bill through the legislative wringer before its adoption and enactment.

Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel tabled the bill in Parliament on Tuesday and briefed the portfolio committee on economic development on the draft law. The bill seeks to clearly define market competition policy outlined in the Competition Act of 1998.

Among other things, the amendment bill will allow the Competition Commission to penalise serial offenders for their anti-competitive behaviour faster. It also allows for interventions and veto in the event that a merger or acquisition has any impact on national security.

BUSA economic and trade policy director Olivier Serrão told Fin24 that the business leadership organisation had already engaged with the bill extensively and believed that it had great potential to open up South Africa’s markets if government could ensure investor certainty and stability.

“Certain safeguards should be built in so as to minimise investor uncertainty. In addition, the deployment of the measure should be transparent and any so-called ‘strategic veto’ should be limited to national security and critical infrastructure,” said Serrão.

Serrão said the market should be given adequate time to adjust to any changes in this regard.

Regarding the tougher penalties on serial offenders of competition regulations and perpetrators of anti-competitive behaviour, Serrão said those who flout the law must face penalties.

“Our understanding is that this provision applies for transgressions that are substantially a repeat by the same firm of conduct previously found to be a prohibited practice. Proven anti-competitive behaviour should be penalised,” said Serrão.

Serrão said organised business in South Africa believed in a fair and equitable, competitive and open market place in order to grow the economy, as well as to give previously disadvantaged individuals an opportunity to enter the market.

“Business acknowledges that competition is the backbone of any thriving market-based economy, and business acknowledges that South Africa needs to maintain an open and competitive economy,” he said.

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