South Africa’s just-passed Competition Amendment Bill is “transformative in character” as it would promote the participation of small enterprises in the economy, while aiming to dismantle cartels, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel has said.The minister said this when the National Assembly held a debate on the second reading of the bill in the National Assembly in Cape Town on Tuesday.
“If we are to grow the economy much faster and we are to bring in fresh investment, and if we are to support small business development, we must take measures to deal with the structural problems of the economy.
“This includes high levels of economic concentration that acts as a restriction for new entrants, new investors and new firms,” Patel said.
After a vote, the Competition Amendment Bill was passed and referred to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence after 194 Members of Parliament (MPs) voted for it, with 83 voting against the amendment.
There were no abstentions. The bill introduces several measures aimed at tackling anti-competitive behaviour from bigger firms.
Outlining the benefits of the bill, the Patel said the bill gives small businesses a special status as actions by dominant firms would now be subject to more scrutiny on practices like discriminatory pricing, which have been found to be damaging to smaller players.
In addition, consumers and customers would have better protection from excessive pricing by dominant firms, with the law set to put in place clear criteria that the courts could apply to determine if the pricing is excessive, he said.