ISLAMABAD - A team of Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP), headed by its Chairperson Rahat Kaunain Hassan and comprising of Member Enforcement Abdul Ghaffar and Member Advocacy Vadiyya Khalil, during a visit to Karachi, held various advocacy sessions and conducted various seminars with the focus to create awareness regarding competition law enforcement and its effectiveness.

During the visit to Karachi School for Business and Leadership (KSBL), the CCP team met the Dean of KSBL Dr. Shaukat A. Brah and his members of Faculty in respect of CCP’s proposal to introduce Competition as an elective subject in various distinguished institutions including KSBL.

During the visit, it was emphasised that introduction of an academic course regarding competition law at premier academic institutions will further create awareness, and ignite interest, in this field of law which has assumed increasing importance in economic regulation. It will also bring much needed institutional structure to on-going and potential knowledge based initiatives of the Commission, providing long term sustainability for its enforcement activities.

It will seek to create a nexus between the competition regime and the academic circles in the country providing sustainable increase in knowledge relating to competition issues, she added. This initiative has generally been well received and KSBL agreed in principle that special sessions on competition law at KSBL shall be held in the year 2013. The Commission has also written to various other universities including the Punjab University and the Lahore University of Management Sciences for introducing Competition as elective subject - given the importance of this discipline for the economy.

On behalf of CCP, it was assured that the Commission was willing to offer its expertise and resources so as to facilitate the development and offering of competition law course by academic institutions.

With the possible support from academia, the Commission aims at creating a culture of competition by achieving more compliance through understanding of the subject and competition issues. The KSBL Dean appreciated the commitment of CCP’s team and expressed his willingness for all possible collaboration with the Commission to establish the Centres of Excellence in the country to provide platforms for research and to make a significance difference in business education in Pakistan.

Similarly, while attending a seminar organised by the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Chairperson briefed the participants of the seminar on the key provisions of Competition Act, 2010 and enforcement actions, enquiries/investigations in progress. The seminar was attended by Kimihide Ando, Vice-President OICCI, Abdul Aleem, General Secretary, and a large number of OICCI members.

OICCI was informed that as a result of effective enforcement, the Commission got ‘Fair’ rating in independent evaluation by the Global Competition Review (GCR) in 2010 and 2011, and was also shortlisted by GCR for the Enforcement Award in the category ‘Agency of the Year - Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa’ for 2012.

They were further informed regarding peer review of the Commission by the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which is currently being carried out by a team led by  William Evan Kovacic, former Commissioner in the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The team members include, Fernando Furlan, former President of Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Economica - CADE (Brazilian Competition Authority), and Orcun Senyucel, head of the Enforcement, Rekabet Kurumu (Turkish Competition Authority). The Peer Review has been requested for and volunteered by CCP and the evaluation will be shared at the next meeting of UNCTAD expected to be held in July next year which will be presented before 152 countries. The Chairperson said that the peer review is an effort on behalf of CCP for the strengthening of the institution as well as building the image of Pakistan.

She informed the participants that the Commission has imposed fines of Rs 8.5 billion for different violations of competition law. However, she said that effectiveness of the Commission’s orders/actions shall be more visible upon disposal of pending cases before the courts. “Notwithstanding this, we feel that awareness is being created and there are various other indicators which speak of Agency’s effectiveness and its performance has been internationally acknowledged.” The Chairperson informed that the Commission was currently dealing with several cases including poultry, entertainment, urea/fertilizer, telecom and aviation sectors.

In cases dealing with Office of Fair Trading (OFT), i.e. deceptive marketing practices, she said that the Commission has adopted a compliance-oriented approach and so far, hundred percent compliance has been achieved.

CCP Member C&TA Abdul Ghaffar briefed the participants on the ongoing major enquiries. OICCI General Secretary Abdul Aleem acknowledged and praised the role of CCP for promoting healthy competition and creating a level playing field for businesses.

In the advocacy session at American Business Council of Pakistan (ABC), the Chairperson had an interactive session addressing various concerns of the ABC members regarding enforcement and application of the Competition Act. She also briefed the ABC members regarding the overall performance, challenges, and achievements of CCP.

A brief introduction of the Voluntary Competition Compliance Code (VCC Code) was given by Director General CCP, Ikram ul Haq Qureshi. He said that the purpose of VCC Code is to establish a formal internal framework and a self-correction mechanism for business organizations.

It is intended to ensure that the provisions of Competition Act (and the associated rules and regulations) are not violated; in the event of a violation, the VCC Code allows the problem to be detected at an early stage, thereby reducing the chances of a penalty imposition by the Commission. He further informed that the names of the undertakings that register with the Commission in respect of adoption of the VCC Code will be listed on the website of the Commission and a registration number will be issued to them. A business organization’s efforts to comply with the principles of the Competition Act by adopting and implementing the VCC Code will enhance its public perception as a consumer friendly entity committed to business ethics and social responsibility. Members of ABC were invited to adopt the VCC Code emphasising how it would be beneficial in creating goodwill as well as ensuring compliance.

CCP Member Advocacy & IT, Vadiyya Khalil, briefed the participants on the major milestones achieved in advocacy. ABC President Saad Amanullah Khan in his closing remarks appreciated the performance of the Commission and the initiative of VCC Code. He assured his full support to the Commission in creating a culture of competition in the country.