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Grab slammed with $124K fine by Philippines for incorrect pricing data

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A Grab motorbike driver speeds along a street in Jakarta, Indonesia on February 13, 2017.BEAWIHARTA/REUTERS/THE STAR (MALAYSIA)

Grab slammed with $124K fine by Philippines for incorrect pricing data

THE government’s antitrust body alleged Grab Philippines provided incorrect data about its pricing, thus impeding its review of whether or not the ride-hailing company has been addressing commuter woes since it took over Uber.

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) officials slapped the company with a 6.5 million peso ($123,926) fine, citing inconsistencies in Grab’s data about its pricing.

PCC chair Arsenio Balisacan alleged Grab submitted “deficient, inconsistent and incorrect data for the monitoring of its compliance with its voluntary commitments”.

Grab said it would file a motion for reconsideration.

Its takeover of the regional operations of its rival Uber in March last year made its business a virtual monopoly in the Philippines.

While this gave the company a stronger market power, many riders complained such advantage did not necessarily translate to better services as higher fares preyed on the traffic-weary public.

The PCC had flagged the deal and launched a review even as the deal pushed through. Months later, the antitrust body set this review aside after Grab agreed to “voluntary commitments,” whereby the company would be monitored by an independent trustee.

Balisacan said these commitments were made to address concerns on the company’s pricing behaviour and maintain service quality “in the absence of a significant competitive pressure in the market.”

“However, the commission cannot effectively enforce these commitments without the submission of correct, sufficient, consistent and timely data by Grab,” he said.

The PCC did not say how this would affect further actions in the future.

“We do not want to presume that this is going to be a continuing trend towards violating their undertaking,” PCC commissioner Johannes Bernabe said.

Then PCC commissioner Stella Quimbo had said the government could cancel the Grab-Uber deal “in an extreme situation where there would be a blatant disregard” of the commitments.

In a separate statement, Grab Philippines president Brian Cu said the company wanted to know why the fine reached 6.5 million pesos.

He said the PCC required Grab to submit data that covered the period after the transaction was made in March.

Given the nature and huge volume of data required, he said the company worked “under very limited timelines to meet PCC’s deadline”.

“During the voluntary commitment negotiations, Grab recommended various ways to present the requested data based on how the system can best provide them. Given enough time, we can reconcile our data structure with theirs,” he said.

“Three out of four penalties were set at a maximum amount of two million pesos each. Given the breakdown of the fines vis-a-vis the severity of the lapses alleged by the PCC, we would like to better understand PCC’s rationale for imposing a maximum penalty,” he added. PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ANN

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