CCI to probe OMCs on petrol pricing

 The Competition Commission of India (CCI) may soon ask its investigation wing to probe the alleged cartel-like behaviour of oil marketing companies (OMCs) who would have acted in “unison” to change petrol prices.

“Prima facie evidence suggest that the case pertaining to cartel-like behaviour of OMCs, does deserve a more detailed examination by the office of the DG (Investigations), and we will soon take a view on it,” a CCI source said.

The Commission is expected to make a final decision in this regard in October. After an initial enquiry, the CCI found that there was no valid reason why Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum were increasing and decreasing petrol prices in “unison” as petrol was a decontrolled product.

The official said, “Such a behaviour of the OMCs was limiting competition in the market and not giving consumers the opportunity to choose the best price.” OMCs earlier used to revise petrol prices on 1st and 16th of every month on the basis of average international oil prices and the foreign exchange rate in the previous fortnight, a practice that was discontinued after decontrol.

The three OMCs had raised petrol prices by 70 paise a litre on July 23, in view of high prices in the international market.The three state-owned OMCs have been simultaneously raising and lowering petrol prices.  The CCI is studying the case suo moto and considering a probe under appropriate provisions of the law.

Unfair trade practices requiring the CCI’s intervention have been on the rise. While cement companies were penalized Rs 6,307 crore for restoring to cartelization, it also issues notices to 17 automobile manufacturers on an alleged anti-competitive practice of selling spare parts at higher prices to consumers.

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