ISLAMABAD - The Competition Commission of Pakistan hosted the 13th quarterly meeting of Competition Consultative Group (CCG), an informal think tank set up by CCP to solicit feedback and suggestions on competition related issues, policies and enforcement from public and private sector representatives, legal community, academia, media and the government.
The meeting was attended by representatives of State Bank of Pakistan, National Electric Power Regulatory Authority, Engineering Development Board, Civil Aviation Authority, Consumer Association of Pakistan, Friedrich-Nauman-Stiftung, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan, Linde Pakistan Limited, Indus Motors Company Limited, Pakistan Business Council, Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Glaxo SmithKline, Pfizer Pakistan Limited, Lotte Pakistan Limited and ICI Pakistan Ltd.
Rahat Kaunain Hassan while briefing the participants of the meeting about the recent enforcement actions, said the Commission has recently concluded two enquiries, i.e. enquiry in the matter of unreasonable increase in the price of urea fertilizer, and enquiry against PTCL for prima facie abusing its dominant position in the market for provision of DSL services through margin squeeze. She said a policy note was also issued to the Government of Punjab for the ban it has imposed on establishment of new sugar mills and expansion of existing ones, in force since December 2006, and asked the provincial government to lift the ban to allow a fair competition in the sector.
She said the Commission maintained the pace of enforcement despite several challenges, particularly given the financial constraints faced by the Commission. She lamented the deduction in the budget of the Commission by 20 percent, saying that financial independence was critical for the Commission's sustainability. "The Commission is tasked to monitor the economy of the whole country, with a professional team comprising of only 46 officers in enforcement," the Chairperson said. She hoped that the government will soon ensure recovery of 3% fee outstanding from 5 regulators as has repeatedly been assured by the government. CCP does not intend to cause any financial burden on the government and hence it is important to attain financial autonomy for its advocacy and enforcement functions.
She stated that the Commission has been able to deliver primarily because of its professional team working in a focused manner and its hard work will eventually translate into public good. She also stated that the backlog of cases before the courts does not mean CCP should not continue with its enforcement. The impact, she added, will nonetheless be visible in the years to come.
The chairperson said the Commission's work was being recognized internationally as evidenced by the independent evaluation carried out by the Global Competition Review (GCR). The GCR lauded the Commission's inclusion in the rating as a testament to the fact that 'The Commission has established itself as a truly effective enforcer in 2010.' In 2011, CCP has been termed 'consistent' and that 'CCP continued to progress impressively in its second year in rating enforcement.' In the Review, CCP has been termed efficient and open to reason.
It has been stated that the Commission is a proof that an independent respected authority can exist in a developing country with significant economic and political challenges and they anticipate that it will go from strength to strength.
She said that during his recent visit to the Commission's office, the US Deputy Chief of Mission in Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Hoagland commended the Commission for its efforts to promote fair business competition, defend consumer rights, and push for economic reforms and complemented that: "CCP is the future of a globally competitive Pakistan."
The Chairperson said the Commission was accessible and was always ready to reach out to the stakeholders to create awareness regarding competition law. She asked the business community and the consumer rights groups to support the Commission in creating a business environment based on healthy competition.
The participants of the meeting during the question and answers session applauded the Commission for its work and expressed their willingness to extend its support to the Commission.