ISLAMABAD,WEDNESDAY,2 NOVEMBER 2011: The Competition Commission of Pakistan hosted the 12th quarterly meeting of Competition Consultative Group (CCG). CCG is a forum provided by CCP to solicit feedback and suggestions on competition related issues and policies from public and private sector representatives, legal community, academia and the government.
The meeting was presided over by the Chairperson CCP, Rahat Kaunain Hassan, and attended by Mr. Abdul Ghaffar, CCP Member Cartel, Monopolies and Trade Abuses, Ms. Vadiyya Khalil, Member Advocacy and IT, Mr. Mueen Batlay, Member Competition Policy and Research, and Dr. Shahzad Ansar, Member Office of Fair Trading and Budgetary Affairs. Representatives of the business community, the Pakistan Business Council, the American Business Council, the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the Consumers Forum, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan, State Bank of Pakistan, and the Media attended the meeting.
The CCP Chairperson, Rahat Kaunain Hassan, while sharing her vision with the CCG members, enumerated the factors leading to making CCP a robust law enforcement agency. She said the dedication and hard work of the tenacious team members of CCP have led the institution to achieve several key milestones. The international recognition being received by CCP for its enforcement actions is a proof of the excellent performance of CCP team.
She said it has been our commitment to enforcement that CCP became the first regulatory authority from South Asia – ahead of its counterparts in China, India and Singapore – to be included in the Global Competition Review’s Annual “Rating Enforcement.” Global Competition Review (GCR) is the world’s leading anti-trust and competition law journal that is chiefly consulted by lawyers, competition authorities, economists and academics to keep abreast of the latest developments in competition law. ‘Rating Enforcement’ is GCR’s annual assessment of the relevant competition agencies in which they gauge the agency’s efficacy in preventing and tackling anti-competitive behaviour for the benefits of consumers.
‘Rating Enforcement’ also points out that one of the key achievements of CCP has been that in recognition of its limited budget and tremendous responsibility, it has made efficient use of resources one of its main aims and pursuant to that has ‘reduced costs by 20 percent since 2009, and is reaching a 40 percent reduction this year’. The assessment commends this efficiency and observes that it ‘shows the authority is managing to up the pace of enforcement while reducing costs.’
The CCP Chairperson said a strong base is very important for any institution and any change at the top tier should not affect the institution’s sustainable performance. She said it is her priority to provide a strong base to CCP and in this regard the capacity building of the officers is being carried out. Two officers of the Commission have secured Post Graduate Diploma from the King’s College, London, in “Economics for Competition Law.” Officials from the Turkish Competition Authority have trained officers of CCP on “Bid Rigging in Public Procurement.” Similarly, officers of CCP were sent to attend various international conferences and training programs on Competition Law, she informed adding that we are focusing a lot on enhancement of technical expertise.
The CCP Chairperson said that while resolution of the funding issue is crucial to make CCP a sustainable institution, and there has been some progress, the reality remains the same that not one of the regulatory bodies have yet started making their payments, which in effect is their statutory obligation. She emphasized that it is one of the largest challenges CCP is confronted with. “The government needs to demonstrate a stronger will to resolve the issue and the regulators must recognize its significance,” she added.
She informed the CCG meeting that more than 170 cases of CCP were pending in various courts of law, which do act as an impediment in transmitting the real fruit of actions taken by CCP to the masses. “While this is part of due process, we are pursuing expeditious disposal as the outcome of these pending cases would be crucial in giving a direction both to CCP as well as to the business community.” She welcomed the appointment of Competition Appellate Tribunal’s Chairman by the Government saying that the tribunal is a step forward in resolving the pending cases.
The Chairperson informed the CCG Members that the Commission had made itself more accessible and visible to the public by moving its premises from Diplomatic Enclave to Blue Area in Islamabad, a move that is also substantially cost effective.
CCP Member Dr. Shehzad Ansar briefed the CCG meeting on the actions being taken against companies violating Section 10 of the Competition Act, 2010 that deals with deceptive marketing practices. He praised the role of the Consumers Forum and other consumer protection agencies for helping CCP raise awareness about the Competition Law. He said the number of consumer complaints has increased manifolds.
CCP Senior Joint Director, Ms. Nadia Nabi gave a detailed presentation on the performance overview of the Commission during the last three years. She said CCP has conducted 11 search and inspections during the last three years out of which seven were conducted in 2011. She informed that under the New Roadmap of CCP, public procurements and concession agreements are the primary focus areas from enforcement perspective.
The CCG Members were highly appreciative of CCP’s performance and offered useful suggestions regarding the resolution of pending issues.