By PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI
THE COMMERCE Ministry will submit the draft amendment of the Trade Competition Act for Cabinet consideration within the next two weeks, with the changes aimed at creating a more competitive landscape.
The bill will expand the act to cover all state enterprises and their subsidiaries involved in business activities.
A new independent body free of political intervention will also be set up to handle complaints related to competition, said Wiboonlasana Ruamraksa, director-general of the Internal Trade Department.
The current law, enforced by the Commerce Ministry, does not apply to state-owned enterprises, only covering private companies.
The ministry’s Trade Competition Committee currently handles complaints under the act.
The draft amendment has been undertaken under the broad plan of Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha and the National Council for Peace and Order to create a better business environment, reduce market dominance, and ensure a fair and level playing field for enterprises to do business based on international standards.
“Under the act, 85 cases of unfair trade competition have been filed and considered by the Commerce Ministry during the more than 10 years it has been in force. However, not a single case has made it to legal judgement, as it is an inefficient law,” Wiboonlasana said.
After amendment, the Trade Competition Act should be a more efficient instrument that is able to create a fair business environment and punish enterprises that operate unfairly, she said.
It will also shorten the investigation period for suspected violation of the rules. Under the current law, a subcommittee has to be set up to investigate each case, which is a time-consuming procedure, but the new law will allow officials to work on a case immediately.
Officials assigned to investigate a case will have full authority to summon witnesses or ask for documentation. The proposed new committee will also be empowered to order enterprises found to be conducting an unfair practice to cease and desist, and to punish wrongdoers, she explained.
The draft amendment has gone through the public-hearing process, and has since been approved by Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn and Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.
It will be proposed to the Cabinet this month or early in February, and then passed on to the National Legislative Assembly. The amendment should be in force by the end of this year, Wiboonlasana said.
The draft had originally been scheduled for completion last June.