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Why the Competition Commission’s work was such a success during the Covid-19 pandemic

A study conducted by the Competition Commission revealed that its work had a significant impact during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Getty)


A study conducted by the Competition Commission revealed that its work had a significant impact during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Getty)

  • A study by the Competition Commission found that its work had a positive effect during the pandemic.
  • The commission said certain intended objectives for the block exemptions were a success. 
  • It said the exemptions were used extensively by people in distress during the peak of Covid-19. 

A study conducted by the Competition Commission revealed that its work had a significant impact during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially during lockdown Levels 4 and 5.

The commission published the final report of its Covid-19 impact assessment study, titled “The Impact of the Covid-19 Block Exemptions and Commission’s Enforcement during the pandemic”.

The report detailed findings which reflected the impact of block exemptions and enforcement during the pandemic.

READ | How SA’s Covid-19 vaccine injury fund will work

These block exemptions allowed market players to collaborate and coordinate their response to the crisis, in order to mitigate the negative economic and social impact.

In a statement detailing the study’s findings on Sunday, the commission said its work played an important role in framing the exemptions [which] Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel granted. 

The statement reads: 

The minister granted the exemptions, particularly to the health, retail property and banking sectors, to assist them in responding to the pandemic

The study found that block exemptions for the health sector were largely a success because they were used extensively. 

The commission also said several intended objectives for the exemptions were achieved.

“For example, due to the exemptions, patients were moved from public hospitals to private hospitals to ensure that care was provided when public hospitals were capacity constrained.

READ | How exemptions to the Competition Act help the fight against coronavirus

“Further, through the exemptions, the sector collaborated on the reduction of the cost of Covid-19 tests from between R1 000 and R1 500 to R850, saving patients and medicals schemes over R1.5 billion per year in the process.”

It was successful in the retail property and banking sector because it was used for negotiations, which resulted in landlords and lenders providing financial relief to tenants and debtors in distress due to the pandemic.

The commission also said it played a role in framing the anti-price gouging regulations by enforcing it through advocacy work and investigations on price gouging allegations.


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