New Delhi: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has sought greater flexibility from the government to hire professionals to tide over its current shortfall in staff strength, chairman Devender Kumar Sikri said.

Briefing reporters about the International Competition Network annual conference to be held in the national capital next week, Sikri said the regulator is working with the government on the issue of hiring flexibility, and added that the government is sympathetic to the need for tweaking recruitment rules.

The CCI has the power to recruit professionals, but the terms and service conditions are prescribed in rules administered by the government, another official explained, on condition of anonymity.

The commission wants the terms of service to be prescribed as part of regulations that it can administer. That will enable the competition watchdog to caliberate recruitment terms as per evolving market conditions and attract the best professionals. Enforcement of competition law requires experts from different sectors of the economy and disciplines of law and economics.

“We have now got less than the sanctioned number of professionals... We are working with the government on the recruitment rules so that they are made more in tune with the market. We need quality people from economics, law and finance disciplines," Sikri said, adding the issue will be resolved in the coming days.

The second official cited above said the CCI has a 37% shortfall in professionals and a 60% shortfall in the office of the director general—which is its investigative arm.

Sikri said the commission will present a project report at the forthcoming conference on enforcement action against cartels. About 63% of CCI’s investigations in the last nine years are to do with cartels.

“Busting cartels is the utmost priority of any competition agency as they are the most egregious violation of competition law," Sikri said, adding the report will disclose the common underlying elements of cartels across sectors.