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PCC raises penalties for violations of competition law

Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - January 28, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has raised penalties by 10 percent for violations of the competition law.

In Memorandum Circular 21-001 published yesterday, the PCC said it increased the fines for anti-competitive agreements, abuses of dominance, anti-competitive mergers, and violations of compulsory merger notification.

In particular, for cartels, abuses of dominance, and prohibited mergers, the PCC hiked the maximum administrative fine to P110 million from P100 million for the first offense.

For the second offense, the  new fine is from P110 million to P275 million, up from P100 million to P250 million, previously.

As for the third and succeeding violations, the PCC raised the fine to P165 million up to P275 million from P150 million to P250 million.

For belated merger notification, the PCC said the maximum fine is now at a higher P2.2 million from  P2 million.

When it comes to supply of incorrect or misleading information, a fine of up to P1.1 million would be imposed, up from P1 million.

Under the Philippine Competition Act, adjustments will be made on the administrative fines every five years to maintain their real value from the time the law was enacted.

“Indexing the value of imposable fines to inflation ensures that the competition law’s sanctions maintain sufficient deterrent effect,” PCC chairperson Arsenio Balisacan said.

The adjustments would be taking effect by Feb.9, or 15 days after the circular is published.

As such, the higher fines would only apply to violations committed after the circular’s effectivity.

While adjustments were made, the PCC said actual fines are determined by several factors such as the gravity and duration of the violation, profits derived from the illegal conduct, and consumer harm.

“Along with effective detection and prosecution of infringements, increasing PCC’s fines is meant to deter cartelistic and abusive business practices that take advantage of consumers amid the pandemic,” Balisacan said.

Since 2016, the PCC has slapped fines worth P162.5 million fines on erring entities.

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