Debunking Myths or Facts
MYTH: "CCCS oversees competition issues in all sectors"
FACT: Sectors which already have a competition regulator will be excluded from the Competition Act (e.g. energy, telecommunications, media, etc). There are also certain specified activities that are excluded from the Act based on national/ public interest considerations (e.g. supply of piped portable water, supply of scheduled boards and rail services, etc). The activities of the Government and statutory boards and those authorised to act on their behalf are also excluded, as the intent of the Act is to regulate conduct of market players.
MYTH: "CCCS is a price regulator"
FACT: CCCS does not regulate prices. In a free market, suppliers can set their own prices but they should do so independently. What is prohibited under the Act is the attempt by competitors to collectively fix prices, thereby restricting competition in the market.
MYTH: "CCCS only goes after SMEs"
FACT: CCCS takes infringement of the Competition Act seriously. It will investigate if any entity is found to have infringed the Act.
MYTH: "Dominance in the market is bad"
FACT: Being a dominant player in a market is in itself not anti-competitive. However, when a dominant player in the market seeks to protect, enhance or perpetuate its dominant position in ways unrelated to competitive merit, this will unduly restrict competition, and ultimately hurt consumers and businesses. Such conduct constitutes an abuse of dominance, which infringes Section 47 of the Competition Act.
MYTH: "Mergers are harmful to competition"
FACT: Not all mergers give rise to competition concerns. Many mergers can preserve or even enhance the existing level of rivalry. A merger of anti-competitive only when it leads to a substantial lessening of competition without offsetting economic efficiencies.
MYTH: "Companies who decide to merger MUST notify CCCS on their intent"
FACT: It is not mandatory for merger parties to notify CCCS of their merger or anticipated merger. However, parties may do so if they have serious concerns as to whether the merger or anticipated merger has led to or may lead to a substantial lessening of competition.
MYTH: "I cannot apply for leniency if I am involved in a cartel but do not have substantial supporting information"
FACT: Even if you do not have substantial information or evidence of the cartel, you may still apply for a leniency marker on behalf of your business and thereafter gather the necessary information or evidence required to support your leniency application.
MYTH: "Similar increases in prices of a given good or service means price fixing has taken place"
FACT: Observation of similar prices or changes of prices at the same time does not always indicate price fixing. For instance, prices can be similar or move in tandem because of market forces in a highly competitive market. This can happen, say, when the products sold are homogeneous or very similar, which makes it difficult for businesses to charge different prices to customers. Thus, observations that prices are similar or moving in tandem are not sufficient for CCCS to commence investigations on price fixing. Further evidence is needed before an investigation is carried out.
MYTH: "CCCS will put all who do not comply with the Competition Act in jail"
FACT: CCCS does not put those who failed to comply with the Act in jail. CCCS may impose a financial penalty and/or issue directions such as requiring the business to stop or modify its activity or conduct. A financial penalty, if imposed, shall not exceed 10% of the turnover of the business in Singapore for each year of the infringement up to a maximum of 3 years.
MYTH: "The guidelines issued by CCCS do not take public feedback into consideration"
FACT: The CCCS Guidelines outline how CCCS will administer and enforce the provisions under the Act. They are published to provide greater transparency and clarity to interested parties. These Guidelines were finalised after seeking and considering the inputs and feedback given by the public.
MYTH: "It is ok to share pricing plans and strategies with business counterparts so as to reduce price volatility which gives us a more stable market"
FACT: You should never share or exchange commercially-sensitive information with your competitors, such as sharing of pricing information including promotions, discounts, and the terms and conditions of sale. By doing this, businesses will risk running afoul of the Competition Act.
MYTH: "It's ok to support a fellow competitor during a tender bid by agreeing to take turns winning the bid"
FACT: Bid rigging occurs when competitors agree with one another on who should win a tender. To support the cartel member who has been designated to 'win' the tender, other cartel members may refrain from bidding, withdraw their bids, or submit 'false' bids. An agreement involving bid rigging will constitute a serious infringement of the Competition Act.