UK GOVT CONSULTATION ON MERGING FUNCTIONS WITH CMA CLOSES
Gordon MP Richard Thomson has responded to the UK Government’s review into the Groceries Code Adjudicator – the third since it was established only eight years ago – which could see its functions being merged into those of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The SNP MP has strongly backed retention of the Adjudicator, which is funded by a levy on the big retailers at no cost to the taxpayer.
First mooted in 2008, it took until 2013 for the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) to be set-up, and was only given the power to issue fines following a cross-party campaign by MPs.
Commenting after making a submission to the consultation process, Richard Thomson MP said:
“It’s notable that the Minister who introduced this consultation just two weeks after she took up her position in July hasn’t survived in government long enough to see it through to the end.
“The big concern I have is the Competition and Markets Authority may lose sight of complaints of suppliers being bullied by the big supermarkets when it has things like mergers and takeovers to scrutinise. The GCA’s single focus is the application of the Code and we need that to continue.
“Just this week we had a particularly alarming example in the farming press of suppliers being threatened with delisting by some retailers simply for asking for cost price increases to help cover the increased input and energy costs that they themselves are experiencing.
“Such ‘discussions’ indicate the extent to which farmers, growers and suppliers are at the mercy of the big retailers. In my view, it strengthens the arguments in favour of retaining the GCA in order to help ensure that small and medium-sized concerns are able to call out the abuses in the system perpetrated by the big retailers. My concern is that, should responsibility for all this be subsumed into the CMA, such matters will be dealt with on an ‘as and when’ basis with much bigger matters involving takeovers and mergers receiving the attention.”