EDITORIAL: Competition watchdog should be careful of meddling
The Competition Commission’s intervention to ensure the cost of PCR tests is kept to below R500 is welcome. Many countries have intervened to ensure that companies don’t exploit the unusual market circumstances created by Covid to make unreasonable profits. It would also appear to be more justifiable where there are just a few providers of an essential service, like PCR tests.
Yet this victory shouldn’t cause the commission to overreach into trying to control prices in areas where it has no place intervening. This would appear to be a real danger, given the commission’s new report, titled "Measuring Concentration and Participation in the SA Economy".
In a document that flags everything from SA’s banks to airlines, the report seeks to justify meddling in industries that aren’t the root of SA’s ills. It seems to be a thinly veiled attempt to impose the state’s barely credible will on the private sector, with zero recognition that the problem is the public sector.
What SA needs is a commission that begins to probe how bungling municipalities, and their offshoots like Joburg’s City Power, are able to pass unreasonable increases only thanks to their unfair monopoly. Now that would make a difference.
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