ANATOLY GOLOMOLZIN: DURING PANDEMIC COOPERATION AND EXCHANGE OF EXPERIENCE BETWEEN COMPETITION AGENCIES ARE PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT
The key theme of the webinar organized by the Turkish Competition Authority in cooperation with UNCTAD was an analysis of the challenges and difficulties caused by the outbreak of a new coronavirus infection COVID-19
Representatives of competition agencies from Albania, Greece, Tunisia, Turkey and Uzbekistan took part in the event along with the FAS Russia.
Participants focused on effective methods and tools for countering unfair behavior of companies in various markets, as well as ways to protect and support fair competition in modern conditions.
At the event, Anatoly Golomolzin, Deputy Head of the FAS Russia shared Russian experience in the context of COVID-19.
He emphasized that the Government of the Russian Federation has developed a "Plan to overcome the economic consequences of a new coronavirus infection", which includes measures to support citizens, support small and medium-sized businesses and industries most affected by the spread of COVID-19. The plan also includes system measures aimed at the development of system-forming enterprises and infrastructures.
Anatoly Golomolzin reported on the work directions of the Russian Antimonopoly authority in the current situation, such as: daily (including weekends) monitoring and control of prices for socially important goods and food, holding working meetings with major retail chains to discuss measures to reduce prices and anti-cartel inspections jointly with the Prosecutor's office.
The Deputy Head of the FAS mentioned the response measures when detecting signs of violation of antimonopoly legislation by economic entities and the hotline for product prices that was launched at the website of the FAS Russia and its regional offices.
He also addressed the issue of informing SMEs about support measures and providing explanations on working in conditions that impose various restrictions, ensuring the continuous law enforcement processes and the possibility of remote dealing with complaints on procurement, industry auctions, as well as on requests for inclusion of procurement participants in the register of unfair suppliers.
Anatoly Golomolzin noted that now there are qualitatively new characteristics and incentives for the activities of economic entities, caused by the emergence of new (innovative) sectors of the economy, as well as a substantial change in the geography of distribution of goods and technologies and the formation of innovative markets.
"Limitation of people's movement, the need to organize distance work and education at a high quality level have significantly increased the demand for digital services, as well as formed new services that are organized, including on the basis of existing infrastructure. It was the advance systematic work on the establishment of an independent, distributed, stable, with sufficient reservation of information and telecommunications infrastructure, and creation and development of digital services in a free competition environment, that have formed the basis which ensures the ability to meet the changed nature of consumption of goods and services in critical conditions," the speaker concluded.
He stressed that in this way all Telecom operators were ready to a significant load increase on existing communication networks in order to provide distance work and education, as well as were ready for the necessary reallocation of load on networks. Taking into account that many citizens started to work and study at home, the FAS Russia launched the monitoring of the level of load on mobile networks, as well as changes of prices for communication services.
"Despite the fact that the load on communication network has significantly increased, price growth is not expected. The basic principles of net neutrality, which were formed in 2015 and accepted by all market participants, provided non-discriminatory conditions for the development of services, and made a wide range of digital services and content available to consumers," Anatoly Golomolzin continued.
"Due to the Government program and the contribution of the FAS as a tariff regulator and antimonopoly authority, almost 100% of the country's residents have high-quality digital television. The previous system work provided citizens with the opportunity to switch quickly to new products. Aggregator’s platforms used in various spheres of life, such as taxi or e-Commerce, were ready for both modern society and such crisis conditions," he commented.
Besides, the Deputy Head of the FAS also paid attention to the importance and necessity of international cooperation in the current conditions:
"FAS Russia accumulates experience of foreign colleagues, studies and monitors global practices of changing antimonopoly response in a pandemic, and tries to harmonize its activities in accordance with international best practices".
"In the current environment, cooperation and exchange of experience between the competition authorities is crucial for assessing the economic response to crisis situations caused by the pandemic and analyzing their consequences for competition both at the national and global levels," said Anatoly Golomolzin.