Antitrust body boosts efforts this year, adds more industries to 'priority list'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 03 2019 05:51 PM | Updated as of Jan 03 2019 09:47 PM

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MANILA – The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) on Thursday said it would add more priority sectors in its review portfolio starting with those that have a “potentially large impact” on consumers.

Agreements in industries such as logistics, corn milling and trading, refined petroleum, sugar, fertilizer and pesticides will be added to the PCC's priority list, Chairman Arsenio Balisacan told ANC.

Transactions concerning the food sector and telecommunications, meanwhile, remain as “high priority” for the PCC, he said.

The antitrust body will also become more “aggressive” in investigating bid rigging in public procurement as the government pushes for its P8-trillion Build, Build, Build program.

“We want to ensure that there is clean selection process in public procurement, because that is key to extracting the best value to our taxpayers' money,” Balisacan said.

This year, the agency will roll out the Leniency Program, Rules of Forbearance and an additional “armory of investigative tools” which are expected to strengthen its enforcement framework, Balisacan said.

In a separate year-end report, the PCC said it reviewed a total of 168 mergers and acquisitions deals in 2018, amounting to P2.6 trillion.

"In the Philippines, where the disparity between the rich and the poor is glaring, the Commission commits to steadfastly serve as a force that works to correct the many distortions in the market that disproportionately affect the poor," the report said.

In 2018, the PCC reviewed the merger of ride-hailing firms Uber and Grab. The merger was approved after Grab committed to continuously address competition concerns the agency had raised.