ISLAMABAD - The Senate Standing Committee on Finance on Thursday decided to summon Attorney General of Pakistan in next meeting to enquire about a pending case of imposition of Rs6 billion penalty on cement sector by Competition Commission of Pakistan since 2008.

The Committee, which met under the chair of Senator Saleem Mandviwala, has discussed the Competition Act, 2010, (the ‘Act’), and the actions, achievements and challenges faced by the Commission. The committee was informed that cement sector had obtained stay from the court after CCP imposed Rs 6 billion penalty against the cement manufacturers for increasing prices of cement without any valid reason through cartelisation in 2008.

Senator Saleem Mandviwala expressed concerns over the delay in deciding of case. He said that we should call Attorney General of Pakistan to enquire about the reasons of delay in case.

Chairperson of the Competition Commission of Pakistan, Ms Vadiyya Khalil, along with Member (Cartels & Trade Abuse & Legal), Ikram Ul Haque Qureshi, appeared before the committee meeting.

CCP Chairperson emphasised at the very outset that the Act has been promulgated by Parliament and embodies its intent to protect and promote a competition-based economy in Pakistan. She highlighted the main objectives of the Act, which include the enhancement of economic efficiency, the creation of a level playing field for undertakings and the protection and welfare of consumers.

The Senate Committee was apprised of the enforcement responsibilities of the Commission, which are provided for under the Act in terms of Sections 3, 4, 10 and 11 and relate to protection against abuse of dominance, prevention of prohibited agreements and deceptive marketing practices as well as merger control. The Committee was further informed of the performance of the Commission with respect to these responsibilities, and provided with a record of the Commission’s achievements since its inception. These include leading judgments against cartelisation and deceptive marketing practices.

The Committee was also informed of the advocacy efforts of the Commission, which consist of the organisation of conferences, seminars and workshops to allow the Commission to work with different stakeholders and create awareness.

The Chairperson went on to explain the major limitations being faced by the Commission in the course of its work, which consist of financial constraints and repeated challenges to the constitutional legitimacy of the Act and the Commission thereunder. The Chairman, Senator Mandviwala posed a query as to why the Commission was not in receipt of 3pc of the fees & charges levied by other regulatory authorities, as mandated under Section 20(2) of the Act and was informed that the Commission had received the prescribed amount from the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) for the financial year 2014-15, and was midway through negotiations with other regulatory authorities.

With regards to the challenge to the constitutionality of the Act, Vadiyya Khalil highlighted the fact that not only is competition in the economy within the legislative competence of Parliament but that a federal law on competition is the only practical and meaningful way in which competition rules can be applied.

Ikram Ul Haque Qureshi further briefed the Committee on the cases pending before various courts.