South African Competition Commissioner quoted as preferring legislative action rather than Commission action
In a BD Live article from today (“Competition policy ‘not best way to plug industrial loopholes’”), Linda Ensor reports on a presentation Tembinkosi Bonakele made to Parliament’s trade and industry portfolio committee. In it, the head of the Competition Commission (“Commission”) remarked, according to the article, that “the application of competition law by the competition authorities was a slow process that should not be used to address loopholes in the implementation of industrial policy.” Mr. Bonakele is quoted as noting that the “litigious nature of using competition policy as a mechanism to reduce prices was a ‘delayed remedy to the market’.”
At issue, in part, are the price levels of South Africa’s natural-resource sector, including a reference by Mr. Bonakele to “a loophole” in industrial policy and regulation, i.e., the Commission’s long-running investigation of alleged excessive pricing by Sasol Chemical Industries, which lasted about seven years prior to a ruling by the Competition Tribunal, in which Sasol was found guilty of excessive pricing of propylene and polypropylene products, fining it R534m.
Mr. Bonakele’s key suggestion was that there are alternative means for the government to intervene, e.g., through regulation.