ISLAMABAD - The Competition Commission of Pakistan held the 20th meeting of the Competition Consultative Group (CCG) in Islamabad. The CCG is an informal think tank that was set up by CCP in 2008 to obtain feedback and suggestions on competition-related matters from the government, regulatory bodies, business community, and academia.
The meeting was chaired by CCP Chairman Dr Joseph Wilson, who briefed the participants on the performance of the CCP including its enforcement actions, amendments in various regulations and advocacy initiatives. Dr Wilson noted that since his taking charge as Chairman, CCP had issued 7 show cause notices, 3 enquiry reports, 2 policy notes and passed 2 orders.
Ikram-ul-haq Qureshi, DG Legal CCP told the participants that many cases against the decisions of CCP were currently pending in courts and in most cases courts had granted stay orders.
The CCP chairman informed the participants that CCP had amended regulations pertaining to Leniency and Reward Payment scheme for informants to bring them in line with the Competition Act, 2010.He also briefed the participants on the recent policy notes issued to the government. One such policy note was issued to OGRA which noted that the delay in awarding licenses to new entrants for distribution of flare gas was against the spirit of competition. To this point, a representative of OGRA said that the regulator would use CCP’s policy note as a basis to reach an expedited solution for issuance of licenses.
The Chairman said that another policy note was issued to the government recommending it to withdraw the imposition of ‘capacity tax’ on the beverage industry. The capacity tax, he informed, had put the local industry at a disadvantage. The policy notes, he informed, were non-binding and advisory in nature and were issued if CCP thought that a particular government policy was anti-competitive.
The chairman said that CCP was utilizing its limited resources to create awareness of the Competition Law and in this regard, a number of advocacy actions have been taken. He briefed the participants of the meeting on an international seminar organized by CCP in Karachi on the topic of the “Role of Competition in Improving Investment Climate” and another seminar in Islamabad on the occasion of World Competition Day. He said that the Commission will reach out to business community in several cities over the coming few months and also intends to hold its Annual International Conference towards October 2014.
He stated that the “purpose of CCP was to enhance economic efficiency of a sector to ultimately benefit the consumers”. Shahzad Ansar, Member CCP, gave a presentation on action taken against deceptive marketing practices of companies.
He noted that in these cases CCP was careful to maintain a balance between the interests of consumers as well as the reputation of companies involved. It was due to this approach that 90%, of deceptive marketing cases, resulted in compliance by companies. Participants were informed of the action taken against Cellular Mobile Telecom Operators (CMTOs) who were previously charging a rate 2% as administrative fees to enhance the quality of service.
This fee was now increased to 5%. When CCP issued notices to CMTOs they decided to challenge the jurisdiction of the CCP in courts.
Mueen Batlay, Member CCP, discussed the research work that CCP was doing to assess the state of competition in important sectors such as rice, wheat, sugar, milk and pharmaceuticals.
Participants appreciated the efforts of CCP in promoting healthy competition within the economy and consumer protection. Some participants suggested that there was a need for a mechanism whereby CCP’s competition concerns, regarding a particular policy, be addressed during the policy formulation stage.
Participants of the meeting included representatives from OGRA, PEMRA, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan, Islamabad Stock Exchange, USAID Trade Project, Pakistan Business Council, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce & Industry, members of academia and members of the business community.