(MENAFN - Arab News) The Council of Competition Protection (CCP) says it may soon have greater powers to investigate firms for anti-competitive practices including probing government entities and increasing fines to 10 percent of a company's sales.
Mohammad Al-Qasim, secretary general of the body, said the board of experts of the Council of Ministers and the Shoura Council has been asked to include government bodies under the jurisdiction of the CCP.
Al-Qasim was speaking recently about proposed new competition legislation at a workshop organized by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Al-Qasim said the CCP has the authority to enter any company's premises, review all documents, and take legal action if necessary. However, the scope of the body is limited because it only has 30 staff members.
Al-Qasim said businesspeople in the Kingdom have blamed weak anti-competition laws for the slow development of the private sector and its poor performance relative to the private sectors of other G-20 nations. He said the CCP has recommended an overhaul of the law to help grow the economy.
Al-Qasim said the CCP conducts a thorough investigation before launching legal action and then imposes fines on companies if they are found guilty. All fines go to the national treasury. Al-Qasim said five companies were fined SR45 million recently for breaching competition laws. It collected a total of SR147 million in 2012.
He said the proposed legislation would increase penalties from a maximum of SR5 million to 10 percent of a violating company's total sales in line with international best practice. He said the proposed law would investigate company mergers in terms of the size of the joint company created.
The CCP is currently considering five merger applications and investigating 32 cases involving 101 facilities. It has already found 34 companies guilty of anti-competitive practices.