Competition watchdog marks 20 years of shaping Saudi market dynamics – but there is still more to do

 In the intricate realm of market dynamics, the Saudi General Authority for Competition (GAC) emerges as a pivotal force tasked with shaping the future of fair and competitive commerce.

Driven by a vision of leadership, the GAC has devised a strategic roadmap to enhance the efficiency of the national economy and promote consumer welfare.

At the core of the GAC's vision is a dedication to championing fair competition and cultivating an environment conducive to economic prosperity and consumer empowerment.

As a leading regulatory body, it strives to maintain market integrity while fostering innovation and diversity in goods and services.

The imposition of fines amounting to millions on violators underscores the seriousness of compliance with competition regulations. Since its inception twenty years ago, the GAC has imposed fines totaling nearly SR1 billion ($270 million) on companies found in violation of its regulations.

Saad Hamad Al-Masaud, spokesman for the GAC, revealed that the authority has penalized 252 entities for breaching the country's competition rules since its establishment.

Explaining the rationale behind multiple penalties for certain firms, Al-Masaud emphasized that swift administrative and legal measures are taken whenever a company is found guilty of a violation, leading to additional penalties based on the nature of the offense.

In August 2023, the GAC levied a SR10 million fine on a company for abusing its dominant market position, a practice contrary to fair competition principles. Additionally, a feed company faced a SR10 million fine for attempting to manipulate the bran commodity market, hindering trade and exerting price control.

The GAC's robust enforcement of competition regulations extends to various sectors, with notable fines imposed on cement companies and other entities engaged in anti-competitive practices.

Renowned economist Talat Hafiz highlighted the significance of fair market conditions in supporting economic growth, attracting foreign investments, and ensuring fair trade. He emphasized the GAC's pivotal role in supervising competition laws to promote fair competition, prevent monopolistic practices, and encourage innovation.

Echoing these sentiments, Abdulwahab Al-Gahtani, a professor of strategic and human resources management, lauded the GAC's efforts in stimulating competition to improve market performance, safeguard consumers, and attract investments, aligning with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 goals.

Al-Gahtani emphasized the importance of transparency, fairness, accountability, and independence in governance to protect shareholders' investments and prevent unethical practices that could harm the economy.

In conclusion, the GAC's stringent enforcement of competition regulations plays a vital role in fostering a fair business environment, driving economic growth, and supporting Saudi Arabia's diversification efforts beyond oil.

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