Press Campaign 4th WCD (2013)

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Date-Bah calls for competition law
Ghana Web, December 09, 2013

The Chairman of University of Ghana Council, Justice Samuel Date-Bah, has said the country needs competition law and policy to ensure its proper functioning in the interest of consumers and producers.

He said it is therefore a legitimate public policy interest to ascertain the health of competition law and policy in the country and West Africa at both the national and sub-regional levels — including interactions between the national and regional policy process on the issue.

Justice Date-Bah who is also a retired Supreme Court Judge was speaking at a policy roundtable discussion on competition reforms in Ghana organised by CUTS International under the theme “World Competition Day: Are Businesses and Consumers Losing Out Due to Absence of a Functional Competition Regime in Ghana?”

He said the country does not have comprehensive competition legislation, in spite of having had a few draft statutes formulated which were not considered by policymakers as a priority matter.

In addition, he said various pieces of legislations have been passed in the country which have an impact on competition and competitive behaviour in key markets; such as the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission Act,1997 (Act 538) and the Protection against Unfair Competition Act, 2000 (Act 589).

However, he said the country is yet to establish any entity or authority to monitor competition generally in the economy, and take action to arrest malpractices affecting the competitive process.

Dr. Edward Brown, the Director of Policy Advisory Services at the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET), said there is need for Ghana’s competition law and policy to conform to that of regional competition laws and policies such as those of ECOWAS and UEMOA.

He said regulatory bodies that monitor competition in Ghana must have enough power to deal with cartels. He advised that the process being used to develop the competition policy and law for the country should be participatory enough to capture the views and inputs of all stakeholders, saying the failure to capture and consider all inputs of various stakeholders will render the policy meaningless.

Marnix Segers, Policy Advisor Trade & Private Sector Development for the Netherlands Embassy in Ghana, said since competition goes beyond the borders of the country, the regional perspective should not be missing from Ghana’s competition policy.

Mr. Appiah Kusi Adomako, the Centre Coordinator for CUTS Accra, said competition law promotes competition in markets and curbs anti-competitive conducts by firms.

“In a fair and competitive market, there are large numbers of sellers and buyers, variety of quality goods and services for consumers, and free entry and exit for firms. In every market, the producers’ aim is to maximise profit whilst consumers also want to maximise utility.

“Market competition therefore encourages production of goods and services that are desired by consumers, making use of the most cost-effective use of available resources. Therefore, consumers get the best possible choice of goods and services at the lowest possible price.”.

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The Government of Afghanistan Advises the Business Community to Embrace Competition to Promote Healthy Economic Environment
Press Release, December 08, 2013

The Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industries responsible for Private Sector Development, Mr. Motasel Komaki said that the Government of Afghanistan is highly committed to ensuring that competition remains the lifeblood of doing business in Afghanistan. Mr. Komaki said this during this year’s commemoration of World Competition Day held at the Ministry’s Head office in Kabul. He reminded those who attended the function that competition is healthy in every economy as it keeps every player on their toes while trying to win consumers. He pledged government’s support to create an enabling environment for the private sector development, noting that the private sector is the engine of growth in even fragile economies.

This year’s theme for World Competition Day celebration is Impact of Cartels on the Poor. Speaking in reference to the theme, the Director of Competition Promotion and Consumer Protection Directorate (CPCPD), Mr. Hafizullah Walirahimi deplored cartels, saying they harm the well-being of the poor. He stressed that “there was evidence that cartelization raises price and over-charges consumers”, leaving the poor with no better options. “If all firms compete vigorously, prices should be low enough for consumers to benefit”. He added that the theme was more relevant to Afghanistan because it raises the importance of the need for effective coordination between the competition authorities to fight cartels and eliminate them.

Also speaking during the occasion, President of Afghanistan Board of Entrepreneurs, Mr. Haji Ahagh said that the business community appreciates the importance of competition in contributing towards the growth of national economy and offering quality goods and services to the consumers. He however, urged the government to expedite the operationalization of the competition law so that its rightful role is fully realized. He said he was grateful that the government has formed a National Competition Board (NCB) to take charge of the operationalization of the law.

The celebration was attended by officials from various government ministries, the private sector and partner organizations such as Export Promotion Agency of Afghanistan, Afghan National Standards Authority, UNDP and the Civil Society Organizations.

World Competition Day is commemorated on 5th December each year, but Afghanistan celebration the day on 8th December due to the national calendar’s dictates. The country has joined the international community in celebrating the day for the third year running since 2011.

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Fardin Frotan, Head of Outreach and Communication
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CCP holds seminar
Pakistan Observer, December 06, 2013

The Competition Commission of Pakistan organized a seminar to mark the World Competition Day, which is celebrated every year on 5th December to create awareness on competition related issues and how the enforcement of a competition regime benefits consumers.

The topic of the seminar was “Economic Growth and Competitiveness” and it was attended by H.E. Greg Giokas, Canadian High Commissioner, Dr. Manzoor Ahmed, Regional Trade Advisor US Aid Trade Project, Ms Mia Ter Haar, representative of the US Embassy Islamabad, Mr. Chuk Lambert, Trade Policy Team Lead, US Aid Trade Project, senior officials of the Ministry of Finance, representatives of Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Ministry of Industries, representatives of chambers, senior management of private sector companies and academia.

Dr. Joseph Wilson, the Chairman CCP, while addressing the seminar noted that competitiveness was essential to achieve sustainable economic growth which in turn would rid the country of poverty.

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Marking World Competition Day
Daily Times, December 06, 2013

Seminar held to create awareness on competition issues

Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) organised a seminar to mark the World Competition Day, which is celebrated every year on December 5 to create awareness on competition related issues and how the enforcement of a competition regime benefits consumers.

The topic of the seminar was ‘Economic Growth and Competitiveness’.

Dr Joseph Wilson Chairman CCP said competitiveness was essential to achieve sustainable economic growth, which in turn would rid the country of poverty. Competitiveness is a function of the enforcement of competition regime, Dr Wilson added.

Citing the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, he noted Pakistan’s competitiveness had deteriorated over the years with the country now ranked at number 133 out of 148 countries.

Pakistan’s ranking was lowest in the region falling behind India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The Canadian High Commissioner Greg Giokas said having a discussion on competitiveness was very important. He focused on how to gain a competitive advantage in international trade. The High Commissioner was of the opinion the competitiveness of Pakistan lay in its agricultural sector and Canada was providing its expertise to Pakistan in this sector, so that the potential of this sector could be harnessed.

Mr Giokas linked the competitiveness of a country like Pakistan to the promotion of agriculture. Instead of hiding behind high tariff walls the agriculture sector needed to focus on improving its competitiveness. As a starting point there were three important ways to improving competitiveness: policy development, business development and consultations with stakeholders. He said big gains could come from simple improvements.

Dr Manzoor Ahmad regional Trade adviser for United States Agency for International Trade (Project), talked about the issue of exemptions granted to certain businesses through SROs, which according to him, provided an unfair advantage to large businesses at the expense of small and medium enterprises. He cited the example of the auto sector where special SROs practically prohibited new entrants and gave an unfair advantage to auto producers in Pakistan.

He noted the telecom and banking sectors were success stories where opening up of the sector to competition resulted in enormous benefits to businesses and consumers.

Dr Wilson opened the house for discussion and the participants took keen interest in discussing various issues concerning Pakistan’s competitiveness. While responding to a question, CCP member Dr Shehzad Ansar appreciated the new SME policy recently introduced by the government saying the policy would go a long way in creating more business opportunities particularly for small investors.

Mueen Batlay Member CCP observed unless you were not competitive domestically you could not be competitive internationally.

To a question regarding the auto sector and the general perception that there was a cartelisation in the industry, it was observed policies should be formulated with the consensus of the relevant industry at a proper forum.

Ms Mia Ter Haar from the US Embassy Islamabad said it was important not only to have good laws but also enforcing those laws.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance, representatives of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Ministry of Industries, representatives of chambers, senior management of private sector companies and academia attended the event.

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Policy tackles poverty
The Fiji Times Online, December 06, 2013

COMPETITION policy and law provide the necessary framework that supports and complements measures aimed at alleviating poverty, says Fiji Commerce Commission CEO Bobby Maharaj.

He said the competition policy, where it existed, hovered over all economic activity within a country, promoted rivalry among businesses, and kept a check on rent-seeking and anticompetitive practices, which could stall any poverty alleviation programs.

Mr Maharaj made the comment to mark World Competition Day yesterday.

He said poverty was one of the biggest challenges for developing countries including Fiji. He said the causes of poverty were diverse. “The declaration of such an important day not only assists in raising the profile of competition law and consumer protection legislations and authorities, but is essential to spread the message on the essence of competition law and policies in promoting fair trade, industry and commerce.

“At the same time it ensures the fundamental rights of the consumers are protected and promoted.”

He said this year’s theme “Adverse effects of Cartels on the Poor” was an opportune and a timely one because it spread the message of the need to curb cartelisation and other forms of restrictive trade practices and abuse of dominance.

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WORLD COMPETITION DAY Fighting for the poor: Strengthening antitrust regulations
Dailymirror, December 05, 2013

By Raveen Ekanayake and Kaushalya Attygalle

In 2013, it was found that brand-name drug manufacturers in the United States were paying their competitors – generic drug manufacturers, to keep their products off the market shelves. In a case that was presented before the Supreme Court, Solvay Pharmaceuticals had paid a generic drug manufacturing company named Actavis close to US $ 30 million each year to delay making a drug that could compete with Solvay’s product, and thus, allowed the brand name company to sell their product at significantly higher prices. This “pay-for-delay” agreement deprived consumers of their right to choose and their right to fair pricing of the product. In a country that is trying to make healthcare more accessible to disadvantaged communities, such anti-competitive business practices have become a huge impediment to reducing healthcare costs.

This incident is an ideal case in point to highlight the existence of ‘cartels’ and their adverse impact on the poor. Cartels occur when companies stray away from operating within the usual competitive market system and opt to work together instead. These agreements often take place behind closed doors. They serve no legitimate purposes, rather they only serve to rob consumers of the tangible blessings of competition and are viewed as a side-on attack on free market fundamentals. History has elucidated us to the fact that great economic harm and large-scale competitive disadvantages suffered by modern economies are a result of cartel mentality. Cartels inflate prices, restrict supply, inhibit efficiency, and reduce the scope for innovation (Pate 2003).

Types of cartels

Anti-competitive business practice can occur in various forms that affect both buyers and sellers. Price fixing is the most common form of cartel conduct where a group of companies that are considered to be competitors agree on the pricing of their goods or services. Another form of cartel occurs when competitors agree to share the same customer base, suppliers and even divide certain geographic areas among themselves.

Such cartels even go to the extent of agreeing not to produce the other’s goods and services or expanding to produce the competitor’s goods and services. Bid rigging, or collusive tendering, is another form of anti-competitive cartel behavior that ensures that bids received for a tender notification are submitted in a manner agreed upon by the members of the cartel. Cartels also tend to have restrictions on output which the member companies enter into agreements that limit supply. It is also important to note that cartels can occur both from the seller’s side as well the buyer’s side.

Impact on the poor

While the above mentioned anti-competitive practices can have adverse impacts on consumers in general, the impact of cartels is more severe on the poor. Cartels can impact the poor as both a consumer and a small business owner.

Cartels can affect the poor consumer when price fixing, bid rigging, output restrictions, and shared information occur in industries producing essential goods and services such as basic food, medicine, fuel, transport, and water. For example, as a result of price fixing, a poor consumer will no longer be able to enjoy the benefits of prices that are based on competitive markets but instead, be forced to reduce their consumption as the good or service may no longer be affordable to them.

Similarly, small and medium enterprises are affected by cartels as these small firms face major difficulties in entering or even surviving in a market that has a few strong firms operating within a cartel. In a cartelized market, small business owners face many difficulties in selling their goods and services at competitive prices as the cartelized firms will be able to dominate market prices. In addition to this, small firms will also have to succumb to higher production costs and lower revenue as they may also have to purchase inputs at higher prices.

While seller cartels are often in the forefront of the discussion on cartels and anti-competitiveness business practices, buyer cartels could also negatively impact the poor. If a small firm is a supplier to a cartelized market, this will have adverse impacts as the supplier will be forced to sell their products at the price set by the cartel. For example, commodities such as coffee, cotton, tea, tobacco and milk, which are often supplied by small farmers, are known to have buyer cartels that do not allow these farmers to receive the best possible price for their goods.

Thus, effective implementation of competition laws that severely penalize such practices is undoubtedly essential to ensure that markets operate in a fair and just environment but above all, these laws are essential to protect poor communities from being further disadvantaged.

Anti-trust enforcement

With cartelization on the rise, governments across the world are scrambling to regulate markets in the bid to safeguard the interests of consumers, especially the poor. Antitrust legislations in this lightare viewed as the ‘most effective brake against the cartelization of industry’ (Arnold 1951).

Almost all countries in the world now have some form of antitrust legislation and have established dedicated agencies armed to enforce them. The United States (U.S) is at the forefront of the battle against cartelization; both at home and internationally. It is said to have the toughest and most advanced set of antitrust regulations in the world, hence drawing lessons from the U.S would come a long way in assisting emerging economies such as Sri Lanka draw up similar frameworks. At the very core of the contemporary U.S antitrust legislation framework is the landmark federal statute the ‘Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890’. The Sherman Act prohibits certain business activities that federal government regulators deem to be anticompetitive, and requires the federal government to investigate and pursue trusts, companies, and organizations suspected of being in violation. The Antitrust Division (ATD) of the United States Department of Justice is at the frontlines of antitrust enforcement.

Deterrence and detection

The fundamental objective of any antitrust legislation is deterrence and detection of cartel formation. In pursuit of this objective, an array of tools and sanctions are at the disposal. In the U.S, participation in a cartel is viewed as a property crime, akin to burglary or larceny and thus is dealt with accordingly as a criminal offence. In the words of widely respected American jurist, legal theorist and economist, Richard A Posner‘ criminal sanctions are not prices designed to ration the activity; the purpose so far as possible is to extirpate it’.

Thus in addition to civil action for damages (up to treble damages and attorneys’ fees) and class actions, the Antitrust Division, through the criminal justice system are able to prosecute culpable individuals, who are subject to imprisonment. Under legislation in effect since 2004, corporations could be fined up to a maximum of US$ 100 million under the Sherman Act. Fines could be further extended under a provision of federal law allowing, in the alternative to the statutory fines, a fine equal to either twice the gain from the illegal activity or twice the loss to victims. Individuals convicted of Sherman Act violations can also be imprisoned for up to ten years.

Compared to other crimes, cartel activity is easily concealable, and cartel participants have a strong interest in concealing their unlawful activity, hence, deterrence alone would not suffice, detection plays a pivotal role. Detecting cartels requires enforcement agencies be armed with powerful tools. As such the U.S antitrust division is vested with the power to carry out grand jury investigations of cartel activity. The division is endowed with powers to obtain search warrants and seize relevant documents. With court order, the Division can record conversations without consent. The division’s criminal investigations are supported by other government agencies, such as the FBI and various offices of inspectors general. Agents from these agencies assist in locating and interviewing persons of interest, executing search warrants, or conducting surveillance.

Detection of cartels through leniency programmes is also a powerful tool in the arsenal of most antitrust enforcement agencies. Leniency programmes affect deterrence in a number of ways; firstly they directly increase the expected probability of being detected. Secondly, leniency programmes have a destabilizing effect on potential cartels because the first participant to apply for leniency can escape sanctions that are then imposed on the other cartel participants. Thirdly, through participating corporations provides access to evidence that otherwise might be unavailable (e.g., documents and witnesses located outside the United States).

Whilst leniency programmes across the globe have been instrumental in assisting enforcement agencies detect cartels, they have inherent limitations owing to their narrow focus on those at the very heart of cartels. They fail to incentivize people who are aware of but not complicated by cartel operations, they provide no protection for those whistleblowers that are at the periphery of a cartel hence much activity goes unreported. In response to these limitations, the past decade has witnessed four jurisdictions namely, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Hungary and Pakistan expanding their leniency programmes to incorporate antitrust informant or whistleblower reward programmes which incentive whistle blowing through monetary rewards and protect whistleblower’s identity from disclosure. The reward program administered by the UK office of Fair Trading offers monetary rewards up to US$ 157,000 depending on the value of information, harm to the economy and consumers and the effort and risk involve in providing the information.

Way forward

In Sri Lanka, antitrust legislation is provided through provisions under clauses 34 and 35 of the Consumer Affairs Authority Act, No.9 of 2003. The Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) is the sole agency tasked with enforcing these regulations.

Antitrust legislation and enforcement is still at its infancy. A collaborative study carried out by the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS), the Law and Society Trust and the Consumer Unity and Trust Society back in 2003, shed light on the possibility of cartel mentality prevalent in the cement and shipping industries in Sri Lanka. A decade-on since the publishing of findings, the question still remains, as to whether regulatory authorities have been able to detect such operations and have taken necessary measures to deal with them.

The CAA has been alleged of not being proactive enough, placing too much emphasis on investigation matters relating to pricing and the protection of consumers as opposed to carrying out investigations into the more pertinent area of anti-competitive practices, thereby allowing cartel operations to largely operate unfettered. In this light, a good first step would be to enhance detection measures by way of arming the CAA with corporate leniency programmes and whistleblower rewards schemes details earlier, whilst at the same time strengthening deterrence by way of criminalizing cartel operations. In drawing up such framework Sri Lanka should draw upon lessons/experiences of other nations such as the US, EU, Australia and Canada which are at the frontlines of the battle against cartels.

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Ghana Needs a Competition Law and Policy – Justice Date-Bah
Ghana News Agency, December 05, 2013

Ghanaian economy needs competition law and policy, December 05, 2013

The Ghanaian economy needs a competition law and policy to ensure its proper functioning in the interest of consumers and producers, Mr Justice Samuel Date-Bah, retired Justice of Supreme Court and Chairman of University of Ghana Council, said on Thursday

He said Ghana did not have comprehensive competition legislation in spite of having had a few draft statutes formulated which never caught the fancy of policymakers as a priority matter.

Mr Date-Bah said this at a Policy Roundtable Discussion on Competition Reforms in Ghana organized by CUTS International in Accra.

CUTS International is an international non- governmental organization that advocates on consumer issues and trade.

The roundtable discussion was on the theme World Competition Day: Are Businesses and Consumers Loosing out due to absence of a Functional Competition Regime in Ghana.

It was organized to coincide with World Competition Day which falls on 5 December.

Mr Justice Date-Bah said in Ghana pieces of legislation had been passed which had an impact on competition and competitive behaviour in key markets such as the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission Act, 1997 (Act 538) and the Protection against Unfair Competition Act, 2000 (Act 589).

However, he said, the country was yet to establish any entity or authority to monitor competition generally in the economy and to take action to arrest malpractices affecting the competitive process.

Dr Edward Brown, the Director of policy advisory services at the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET), said there was the need for Ghana’s competition law and policy to conform to that of regional competition laws and policies such as those of ECOWAS and UEMOA.

He said regulatory bodies to monitor competition in Ghana must have enough power to deal with cartels and advised that the process being used to develop the competition policy and law for should be participatory enough to capture the views and inputs of all stakeholders.

Mr Appiah Kusi Adomako, Coordinator for CUTS Accra Office, said competition law promotes competition in markets and curbs anti-competitive conducts by firms.

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Competition law for Phl needed for consumers and poor

Competition agencies and nongovernmental organizations across the globe celebrated World Competition Day on December 5 under the theme “Impact of Cartels on the Poor”. This day coincides with the day the United Nations General Assembly passed the UN set of principles and rules on competition. Cartels are motivated by greed and the desire to reduce competition. Without competition, cartels steal and rob from the public.

In the Philippines, cement is one sector where perennial price increases have always been a complaint despite the removal of tariffs. Other competition issues include exclusive dealing in canned tuna, interconnection problems in telecommunications, and high cost of shipping. Weak competition is detrimental particularly to ordinary consumers especially small and medium businesses.

Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) President Dr. Gilbert Llanto stressed that we cannot overemphasize the need for competition policy and competition law to ensure market contestability and regulate anticompetitive business practices. Without any competition law, there is a risk that market reforms may not be enough to foster effective competition.

In June 2011, President Aquino signed EO 45 designating the Department of Justice as the countrys competition office. While the creation of the Office for Competition is an important step, the legal framework is still to be deliberated at the House of Representatives and the Senate. PIDS Vice President Rafaelita Aldaba emphasized that strong political leadership would be necessary to legislate an effective competition law. In many developing countries, implementation is the Achilles heel of competition. Hence, it is important for us to design competition law and regulations that could be effectively implemented.

Aldaba further noted that there is no one-size-fits-all policy. Taking into account the stage of our economic development, policies, institutions, and resources, a gradual but steady implementation may be the proper approach to follow. The institutional ingredients that make ambitious competition systems feasible in developed countries hardly exist in a developing country setting such as ours and will only take time to build. Both Llanto and Aldaba agreed that to get there, we need to continue building our capacity and to focus on information dissemination and education, such as case studies of good practices. For our advocacy work, we should focus on the removal of regulatory barriers to services such as allowing foreign participation by relaxing the 60-40 percent rule in ports and shipping. For our enforcement agenda, we need to be selective and to pick cases that would generate positive response from the public to build the competition bodys credibility.

Currently, PIDS, in collaboration with the Customer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International of India, is implementing the Competition Reforms in Key Markets for Enhancing Social and Economic Welfare Project. This project aims to assess the state of competition in the rice and passenger transport sectors and quantify the competition benefits for both consumers and producers arising from reforms undertaken in these sectors. Dr. Llanto stressed the need to ensure that consumers realize the potential benefits from an effectively implemented competition regime. This project is one way of making people more aware of the benefits from competition and the need to legislate an effective competition law to accompany market-oriented reforms.

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World Competition Day: Need for a Global Antitrust Agency to Tackle Cartels
December 05, 2013

Today, December 5, Competition Agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations across the globe are celebrating World Competition Day under the theme”Impact of Cartels on the Poor”.This day coincides with the day the United Nations General Assembly passed the UN set of principles and rules on competition.

To many of us the mention of a ‘cartel ‘transports us to visualise the Colombian, Mexican and other South American drug cartels that infiltrate, paralyse law enforcement through callous and corrupt means imaginable and visit violence upon anyone who stands in their way.Cartels whether in drugs or in any other industry are motivated by greed and the desire to reduce competition. Without competition, cartels steal and rob from the public or consumers. Differently put, in an area where the market is dominated by cartels there is a high likelihood that the public could be losing up to 25 percent.

“Adam Smith is credited with an observation that I find very apt on this occasion. Smith found it intriguing that businesses trading in the same market seldom have any merriment to share between themselves. The rivalry and boundary wall, Adam observed, collapses when the intention is to conspire against the public, often in contrivance to raise prices against the public. Competition literature is replete with instances where competing business firms collude to enter into an agreement to fix prices, rig tenders, allocate markets in order to maximise profits. This is what is characterised as cartel conduct.Every year the public and consumers lose billions of dollars to business cartels and this cannot be allowed to go on. This year, we in India should add our voice to theglobal clarion call against harmful effects of cartels”, said Mr. Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International.

Given the nature of cartel activities that cuts across boundaries, it is important to establish an ‘Global Anti-Trust Agency” to effectively deal with Cartels. Creation of a global anti-trust agency would lead to economies of scale among small economies which are usually starved for resources and it would also ensure insurance against regulatory capture by political and/or business interests in one nation.

On the occasion to mark Competition Day, CUTS urgesCompetition Agencies across the globe to help amplify the benefits of open markets while at the same time highlight the harmful effects of the anti-competitive conduct. In the era of economic recession, budget cuts and austerity measures, the cartel overcharges burden should stick out like a sore thumb.Most importantly, CUTS urges the civil society, media, prosecutors and legislators to take a tough stance that will lead to the deterrence of cartels. In other jurisdictions, civil societies groups are calling upon legislatorsto impose stiffer penalties on cartel conduct.

Mehta stressed on the need to ensure that consumers from across the world realise the potential benefits from an effectively implemented competition regime. He further highlighted that the WCD allows all competition law jurisdictions to participate and deliberate on a common theme, bring important competition concerns to limelight and promote competition to enhance consumer and producer welfare.

5 dhjetor, dita e konkurrencës; biznesi ftohet të denoncojë kartelet dhe abuzimet me pozitën dominuese (In Albanian)
December 05, 2013

Mbrojtja e konkurrencës së lirë dhe efektive është një nga kushtet kryesore për të pasur një ekonomi tregu funksionale, sipas një njoftimi për shtyp të Autoritetit të KOnkurrencës. Në Datë 5 dhjetor, komuniteti ndërkombëtar i konkurrencës do të kujtojë Ditën ndërkombëtare e konkurrencës. Kjo ditë ka në fokusin e saj ndikimi negativ te karteleve (marrëveshjeve të ndaluara) tek shtresat e varfera.

Qëllimi i kësaj ditë është që të rrisë ndërgjegjësimin e të gjithë aktorëve dhe faktorëve që ndikojnë mbi konkurrencën e lirë për marrjen e masave për të mbrojtur konsumatorët nga dhe sidomos të varfrit nga marrëveshjet e ndaluara në treg.

Në këtë kuadër, Autoriteti i Konkurrencës kërkon të sensibilizojë biznesin, Autoritetet e ndryshme publike dhe veçanërisht gjykatat për rëndësinë e luftës ndaj marrëveshjeve të ndaluara për konsumatorët te cilat ndajne tregjet, rrisin çmimet dhe në këtë mënyrë eliminojnë konkurrencën e lirë dhe efektive. Këto marrëveshje kanë një ndikim të drejtpërdrejtë mbi jetesën e më të varfërve në çdo shoqëri dhe përbëjnë një pengesë për qeveritë e vendeve të ndryshme për të siguruar mbrojtjen e këtyre shtresave të shoqërisë. Është llogaritur se ndërmarrjet pjesëmarrëse në marrëveshje të ndaluara përfitojnë miliarda dollarë në kurriz të ndërmarrjeve të tjera, taksapaguesve dhe konsumatorëve në përgjithësi.

Veçanërisht të ndjeshme për shtresat e varfra të shoqërisë janë marrëveshjet e ndaluara në ushqimet dhe shërbimet bazë. Psh. Autoriteti i Konkurrencës ka ndaluar dhe parandaluar në disa raste marrëveshjet e ndaluara në tregun e prodhimit të bukës të cilat në disa raste kishin çuar në një rritje të çmimit me rreth 40%. Gjatë vitit 2012, Autoriteti i Konkurrencës, ka hetuar e gjobitur gjithashtu ndërmarrjet e transportit rrugor qytetës në Tiranë, të cilat me marrëveshje ndërmjet tyre kishin vendosur që të kufizonin me 80% numrin e Aboneve të studentit duke detyruar këta të fundit që të blenin abone të zakonshme apo të paguanin biletat duke i rritur kostot për këtë shërbim të paktën dy herë më shumë.

Kultura e konkurrencës mbetet në nivele të ulëta në shumë vende të botës dhe konsumatorët kanë njohuri të kufizuara mbi efektet e dëmshme të karteleve. Në këtë mënyrë Dita ndërkombëtare e Konkurrencës, ka si synim nxitjen e diskutimeve mbi përfitimet që sjell konkurrenca për konsumatorët dhe veçanërisht për shtresat në nevojë në mënyrë të drejtpërdrejtë apo në mënyrë të tërthortë. Në këtë mënyrë synohet që të nxitet kultura e konkurrencës dhe mbështetja e publikut për luftën kundër marrëveshjeve të ndaluara.

Pesë dhjetori është caktuar si dita ndërkombëtare e Konkurrencës, për shkak se në këtë datë, në vitin 1980 është miratuar nga Asambleja e Përgjithshme e Kombeve të Bashkuara, “Seti shumëpalësh i parimeve dhe rregullave të mbi kontrollin e praktikave kufizuese të biznesit”.

Në kuadër të ditës ndërkombëtare të konkurrencës, Autoritetet e konkurrencës, organizata të ndryshme, ndërmarrje, dhe individë të interesuar, bëjnë aktivitete të ndryshme për të festuar ditën ndërkombëtare të konkurrencës me qëllim rritjen e ndërgjegjësimit për rëndësinë dhe përfitimet që vijnë nga konkurrenca e lirë dhe efektive.

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World Competition Day (December 5), December 05, 2013

Už štvrtým rokom sa krajiny celého sveta prostredníctvom rôznych kampaní snažia spotrebiteľom priblížiť prínosy z efektívne fungujúcej hospodárskej súťaže. Aby súťažné princípy fungovali na celom svete, je dôležité, aby sa posilnil dôraz na politiku hospodárskej súťaže a súťažné právo na medzinárodnej úrovni. S týmto cieľom stanovil CUTS (Consumer Unity & Trust Society) v spolupráci s UNCTAD (United Nations Conferences on Trade and Development) 5. december ako Svetový deň hospodárskej súťaže. Protimonopolný úrad podporil tento významný deň usporiadaním Pracovných raňajok, na ktorých predseda úradu a ďalší predstavitelia zhodnotili plnenie cieľov, ktoré si úrad stanovil začiatkom roka 2013.

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Why hold back competition regime?

Business & Financial Times, December 04, 2013

Why Ghana needs to have a competition policy and law?

Ghana Web, December 10, 2013

By Appiah Kusi Adomako

A large number of countries have urged the adoption of 5th December as World Competition Day, in order to popularise the need for developing countries to attach greater attention to the process of competition reforms as a key public policy issue. The process of competition reforms not only benefits consumers but also producers and the economy in general.

The linkage is often not understood by policymakers — hence organisations like CUTS (Consumer Unity and Trust Society) have been leading the campaign for promoting competition globally.

One of the highlights of this campaign is for the United Nations to declare 5th December as World Competition Day — a CUTS campaign that has now been supported by nearly 25 countries from all around the world.

A number of countries have already started observing 5th December as World Competition Day. The purpose of this article is to explain to ordinary Ghanaians the importance of competition in their daily lives — so that a groundswell can be developed that leads to the adoption of a national competition regime in Ghana, which has been a pending reform action in the country for a while.

What is Competition and why is it needed?

By definition, competition law promotes competition in markets and curbs anti-competitive conduct by firms. In a fair and competitive market there are large numbers of sellers and buyers, variety of quality goods and services for consumers, and free entry and exit for firms. In every market, producers aim is to maximise profit whilst consumers also want to maximise utility. Market competition thus encourages production of goods and services that are desired by consumers, making sure of the most cost-effective use of available resources. Thus, consumers get the best possible choice of goods and services at the lowest possible price.

In a fair market, firms compete with each other ‘on merit’ to win consumers and increase their share of the market. Competitive markets provide incentives for firms to produce quality goods and services at low prices — thereby improving on productivity and in turn boosting an industry, the sector and finally the economy.

One can relate to this from a case in Ghana — pertaining to Ghana Telecom and its cellular network called OneTouch. When it was introduced in early 2000, Ghana Telecom controlled the supply of the SIM cards. The SIM cards were sold on the black market for more than 600% of the official price. It was alleged that officials in the company were selling the cards through the backdoor. Spacefon, another cell network provider took advantage of the market and expanded its capacity. By the time Ghana Telecom reacted to the new entrant, Spacefon had already taken a large share of the market.

A large number of countries in the world including developing countries from Africa (Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Kenya, and our neighbours like The Gambia, Burkina Faso, Mali, etc.) have put in place a competition law and an agency to implement the act. However, in spite of having made a few attempts, Ghana has not been able to adopt a Competition Law. The effect of the absence of a competition law is often intangible, but is explained here through the following illustrations.

Ghana Telecom and Vodafone Ghana

It started when it was called Ghana Telecom. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the then-Ghana Telecom dominated the telephony market in the country. Whenever a subscriber wanted to dial any cell phone number through Ghana Telecom’s fixed land-line, the chances of getting through to the other party was fairly minimal. Ghana Telecom was simply restricting the number of calls routing through its platform to other competitors — Spacefon and Mobitel.

Fifteen years down the line, Vodafone which took over from Ghana Telecom seems to have maintained the same posture. As a company with a monopoly in fixed landline and broadband Internet in the country, Vodafone has been alleged to be exploiting its monopoly to the disadvantage of other competitors and consumers. Several cases have come to the fore when Vodafone Ghana has declined to provide a fixed telephone line to a subscriber without him/her applying for a broadband as well. This is a classic case of ‘tied selling’, and it is prohibited under all competition laws. The question is whether the company could have resorted to such actions if Ghana had a Competition Agency implementing a competition law. Further, Vodafone Ghana has placed a cap on data usage on its broadband facility even on its ‘unlimited plans’ — this is not a common practice across the world.

Antrak-Citylink duopoly on domestic air travel

Antrak and Citylink airlines hitherto had dominated the domestic airline industry, especially Accra-Kumasi, with Antrak taking a monopoly over the Accra-Tamale route. Fares on these routes were prohibitively expensive, to the extent that domestic air travel was seen to be the preserve of the upper-class. However, things changed from 2011 when Starbow and Fly 540 entered the market. These two companies injected competition into the industry and their presence started bringing the fares down. Back in 2009, the average price of a Accra-Kumasi flight was about GH¢180. When Starbow and Fly 540 came, they began by charging as low as GH¢35 and still made profits. The dominant firms soon realised that if they did not follow competitive pricing strategy they could be crowded out from business — so they started to allow market forces to determine the price.

Ghana botched attempts to have competition law and policy

Ghana’s attempt to align business and trade to international best practices resulted in the passing of the Protection Against Unfair Competition Act, 2000 (Act 589), which had a lacklustre approach to addressing competition. It has had another draft readied in 2008 — but that too was a non-starter. Ghana is now in the process of putting in place a Competition Policy that will subsequently lay out the ground for a national competition law.

The Ministry responsible for Competition Policy and Law — i.e. the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI) — needs to realise the importance of a Competition Law and convince other policymakers of its benefits.

Ghana seem to have waited too long to have the ‘most perfect’ piece of competition legislation, while ordinary consumers and even the economy seem to have suffered as a result of various market practices that could have been dealt with if the country had an operational legal framework for the same.

Let us all urge in our own capacity on 5th December — World Competition Day — for Ghana to have a national competition regime without any.

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© International Network of Civil Society Organisations on Competition