Parliament Passes Competition Amendment Bill

Department of Economic Development

The Competition Amendment Bill has been passed by parliament and sent to president Ramaphosa for assent.

The national assembly passed the bill and sent it to the national council of provinces for concurrence in October 2018.

The bill, designed to address concentration and drive transformation in the local economy, was published for comment at the end of 2017 and tabled in July 2018.

The bill also aims to amend the Competition Act of 1998, so as to introduce provisions that:

•    clarify and improve the determination of prohibited practices relating to restrictive horizontal and vertical practices, abuse of dominance and price discrimination and to strengthen the penalty regime;
•    introduce greater flexibility in the granting of exemptions which promote transformation and growth;
•    strengthen the role of market inquiries and merger processes in the promotion of competition and economic transformation through addressing the structures and de-concentration of markets;
•    protect and stimulate the growth of small and medium businesses and firms owned and controlled by historically disadvantaged persons while at the same time protecting and promoting employment, employment security and worker ownership;
•    facilitate the effective participation of the National Executive within proceedings contemplated in the Act, including making provision for National Executive intervention in respect of mergers that affect the national security interests of the Republic;
•    mandate the Commission to act in accordance with the results of a market inquiry;
•    amend the process by which market inquiries are initiated and promote greater efficiency regarding the conduct of market inquiries;
•    clarify and foster greater certainty regarding the determination of confidential information and access to confidential information;
•    provide the Competition Commission with the powers to conduct impact studies on prior decisions;
•    promote the administrative efficiency of the Competition Commission and Competition Tribunal; and
•    provide for matters connected therewith.

During its deliberations, the portfolio committee on economic development introduced a number of amendments to the bill including a new definition on margin squeeze, that the minister must make regulations in terms of section 78, a new subsection 4 on abuse of dominance prohibited and a new clause 11 on conditional approvals.

The select committee on economic and business development adopted the bill without amendments.

Sabinet Cape Town Office

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