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USISPF seeks FM’s intervention on draft Digital Competition Bill

US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) has sought intervention of finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on the Draft Digital Competition Bill. In a letter on May 15, the last date to submit the response to the draft Bill, trade body’s president and CEO Mukesh Aghi has sought a lengthier consultation period post the elections.

“This (lengthier period) will enable the industry to submit their in-depth comments. We request that the ministry of corporate affairs re-evaluate the scope and validity of the Committee on Digital Competition Law report and Bill,” he said.

Aghi has said that the obligations imposed by the Bill pose a threat to India’s $1-trillion digital economy ambition as it may deter growth and have a chilling effect on investment. “In its current form, the Bill impacts companies that operate in highly competitive sectors and do not hold major gatekeeping power,” he said.

Under the proposed law, the gatekeepers or the Big Tech will be subjected to ex-ante regulations where the problems will be identified in advance and corrective measures would be taken through the regulatory intervention.

USISPF pointed out that the several aspects of the Bill appear to be modelled directly on the Europe’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), substantive provisions of which have come into force in March. “The DMA is an untested legislation which is being implemented in a starkly different jurisdiction which has a different economic reality. It has also been brought to our notice that the CDCL invited only 29 industry stakeholders for inputs. This leaves out a large number of critical stakeholders, including many providing the core digital services identified in the Bill. Furthermore, it is likely to have a serious impact on investments in India, but it is unclear whether the investor community was engaged,” the letter said.

On March 12, the MCA released the Bill in the public domain for consultation. After repeated requests from stakeholders, the deadline for submitting the feedback was extended by a month. Financial Express

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