Post CCI's cement cartel order industry bodies in a fix
Competition regulator Competition Commission of India's (CCI) censure and a Rs 73 lakh penalty slapped on the Cement Manufacturers' Association (CMA) for facilitating cartel-like behaviour has left several other industry associations confused on what they can do and can't do as part of their mandate.
Their primary concern, while operating in a business milieu where the CCI is watching, relates to the collection of data on prices, production and sales for use by various government arms. Such data collection by the CMA, and its subsequent circulation among its members, was at the heart of the anti-trust case made by CCI against 11 cement manufacturers and the association; it fined the 11 companies Rs 6,307 crore.
In the wake of the CCI order, associations representing the sugar, electrical and electronics, and cement sectors are considering stopping data collection for the government. Abinash Verma, Director, Indian Sugar Mills Association said that the association collect data and supply the same to government agencies such as the Department of Food, whereas another government body (like CCI) can use this fact and penalise the companies.
NA Viswanathan, Secretary General of CMA
, it stopped collecting wholesale and retail price in July 2011-10 months after the CCI began its investigation against cement companies. He added that the order is a complete miscarriage of justice and doesn't appreciate the role industry associations play in bridging information gaps between sectors and the government. If the government feels it's convenient to collect data regularly from close to 150 units, then so be it. Either way, its stance needs to be cleared, he said.