Clarification of scope and timetable of sector investigation
According to official statements by the South African Competition Commission (“Commission”), the agency has clarified the administrative guidelines, administrative timetable, and statement of issues. AAT has reported previously on the sectoral healthcare inquiry by the Commission, critically noting the apparent exclusion of the public healthcare segment, to the detriment of the private care providers.
Theories of harm – “just” theories
The Commission’s main document on the “stakeholder engagement meeting last week states as follows regarding its theories of harm:
[I]n order for the market inquiry to make determinations, it has developed a set of ideas or hypothesis about how harmful competitive effects might arise in the relevant markets under consideration. These ideas are generally referred to as “theories of harm”.
‘It is important to emphasise that these theories of harm are simply hypotheses, or tools, that will enable us to identify whether there are features or a combination of features that may prevent, distort, or restrict competition in the private healthcare markets. Theories of harm are not findings of harm; but are simply analytical tools to guide our analysis. They will be deepened and revised as the inquiry’s thinking develops,’ adds former Chief Judge Ngcobo.
Public comments, and timetable
The agency is “inviting stakeholders to make further comments” on its theories of harm, noting that:
The inquiry is set to follow a very precise and tight administrative timetable which is mindful of the timelines for gathering information including an invitation for written submissions, public hearings, site visits, seminars, and workshops and conducting surveys. Broadly, key milestones will include the issuing of information requests no later than 01 August 2014. The first round of public hearings will take place between 01 March 2015 to 30 April 2015 then from May 2015, the inquiry will analyse and review the information gathered. Presently, the panel aims to make provisional findings and recommendations available for public comment in October 2015.