A new provision in the Competition Amendment Act will allow for inquiries into specific markets, Business Day reported on Monday (11/03/2013).
The provision will pave way for a market inquiry into the private healthcare industry, reminiscent of the Competition Commission’s probe into the banking sector a few years ago, which recommended lower banking charges.
The new provision was published in the Government Gazette on Friday.
The commission announced its intention to review rising costs in the private healthcare sector in 2011. However, the probe would not begin until the market inquiry provision was added to the Competition Amendment Act, given the complexity of the market, and industry players’ possible resistance to co-operating fully.
According to Business Day, the provision will allow the commission to initiate an inquiry if it has reason to believe that any feature of a market distorts or restricts competition.
Unlike the 2006 inquiry into banking costs that required the banks’ voluntary co-operation, the commission will have wide-ranging powers to summons people to testify or provide documents; it will be able to call for any information it deems relevant; and may initiate a complaint against a firm based on information obtained during the inquiry.
Werksmans Attorneys competition practice head Paul Coetser told the newspaper that other industries, besides the healthcare sector, may face an inquiry, among them mobile telecommunications, fast-moving consumer goods, and steel manufacturing. - Sapa