KPMG: Netcare’s application invalid

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Johannesburg - There was no substance to Netcare's bid to stop KPMG from helping the Competition Commission's inquiry into the private health sector, the financial services firm said on Monday.

“Keeping all clients' information, including that of Netcare, confidential is absolutely fundamental to the way in which KPMG does business, in a world built on a solid foundation of trust and integrity,” it said in a statement.

“KPMG is now looking forward to working with the commission on this important inquiry during a period of significant possible change for our local health care industry.”

The High Court in Johannesburg on Friday dismissed Netcare's application to stop the commission from using KPMG's services as technical advisers in the inquiry.

Netcare had objected to the commission's use of KPMG's services for the inquiry.

It argued there was a conflict of interest as KPMG had previously done work for Netcare and had access to confidential documents.

Earlier this year, the health care group said legal proceedings initiated against KPMG were about the company not abiding by a court order agreed to in October.

The court order compelled KPMG to identify and deliver any confidential information it had relating to Netcare to the company, and to identify employees who had access to Netcare's information.

Section27 on Monday welcomed the dismissal of Netcare's application.

“The court has made clear that stakeholders must co-operate with the inquiry rather than attempt to hide information from the commission or disrupt the inquiry,” the lobby group said in a statement.

“(The commission) must use all the tools at its disposal to ensure a robust inquiry that will achieve its constitutional mandate.”

The market inquiry into the private health sector is headed by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo.

In April, Ngcobo said the primary focus would be to determine if competition in the sector was working or could be improved.

The inquiry was triggered by concerns about the functioning of markets.

Its mandate is to find the likely causes of price increases and expenditures that tend to be above inflation in the sector.

The inquiry will make recommendations on appropriate policy and regulatory mechanisms to support accessible, affordable, and quality private health care.

It will make recommendations on whether price-setting mechanisms are acceptable.

Ngcobo said a whole range of findings could be reached, including that the market is not functioning well.

On confidentiality concerns that some businesses might have, Ngcobo said firms were protected in the relevant legislation.

The panel conducting the inquiry needed to be satisfied the information was confidential.

Dates for the inquiry have not yet been set, but Ngcobo has said that public hearings are expected to start on March 1 next year. - Sapa



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