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CCPC Fines Cement Companies for Anti-Competitive Trade Practices and Orders Adjustment of Prices

2021-03-31

The Board of Commissioners of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has fined Lafarge Zambia Plc and Mpande Limestone Limited 10% of their annual turnovers for the year 2019 and another 10% of their 2020 annual turnovers for price fixing and division of markets, while  Dangote Cement Zambia Limited was granted full leniency for having cooperated with the Commission during investigations. 

Further, the Board has ordered Lafarge Zambia Plc, Dangote Cement Zambia Limited and Mpande Limestone Limited to revert to the pre-cartel prices ranging between USD 4.50 – USD 5 for a period of one year from the date of receipt of the Board Decision pursuant to  Section 59 (3) (b) of the Act. Additionally, that Lafarge Zambia Plc, Dangote Cement Zambia Limited, Mpande Limestone Limited submit monthly average ex-works prices and any price adjustments be indexed to the exchange rate and be submitted to the Commission for review pursuant to Section 58 (1) of the Act;

The Board has also ordered the three Cement Companies to develop and implement compliance programmes in their respective firms within 90 days of receiving the Board Directive.

Furthermore, the Board has directed Lafarge Zambia PLC, Dangote Cement Zambia Limited and Mpande Limestone to make undertakings within 90 days of receiving the directive that their respective employees should not engage in any anti-competitive behaviour and that the enterprises should not facilitate and/or participate in any anti-competitive conduct including the exchange of information.

The Board of Commissioners also dropped charges against Zambezi Portland Cement Limited after it was established that they were not part of the cement cartel.

The decision to fine Lafarge Zambia Plc and Mpande Limestone Limited was made during the 49th Board of Commissioners Meeting for the Adjudication of Cases held in Lusaka on 30th March 2021.

This was after an exhaustive investigation by the Commission initiated in January 2020, following the Commission’s observations of a sustained increment of cement prices from an average of K55 to K100 per 50Kg bag between July 2019 and January 2020. The continuous price increment of cement by the parties led the Commission to suspect that there was possible collusion and an agreement to fix the prices of cement.

The investigation which lasted for over one (1) year revealed that the parties shared price adjustment proposals seeking approval for price changes before the implementation date and in some cases before they were approved by their respective management. The exchange of commercially sensitive information on future prices and rebates demonstrated that there was a ‘meeting of minds’ among the Respondents to pursue an agreed objective.

The investigation established that company representatives from Mpande Limestone Limited, Dangote Cement Zambia Limited and Lafarge Zambia Plc held discussions and meetings which resulted in the development of a pricing philosophy to stop cement price reductions. The investigations also established that the Cement Companies had agreed on a flat rebate of ZMW3 sometime in December 2019.

The Board of Commissioners determined that the sharing or exchange of commercially sensitive information relating to future prices and rebates by Mpande Limestone Limited, Dangote Cement Zambia Limited and Lafarge Zambia Plc amounted to an agreement. The Board of Commissioners further determined that this agreement was anti-competitive as it was used to fix the price of cement and share markets contrary to Section 9(1) (a) and (b) of the Act respectively.

The Board notes that infrastructure development is the backbone of social-economic development and one of the Government’s key priority areas in the Seventh National Development Plan. The construction industry is very important for Zambia’s economic growth, infrastructural development and employment generation and the cement industry plays a vital part of this infrastructure development. The fixing of cement prices by the three Companies and setting of trade conditions therefore undermined a competitive market and was detrimental to consumers.

While the Board of Commissioners takes cognisance of the role Mpande Limestone Limited, Dangote Cement Zambia Limited and Lafarge Zambia Plc, play in the economy in general and their contribution to employment creation, their conduct had the serious effect of undermining infrastructure development both private and public especially with Government’s continued thrust on infrastructure development projects from roads, schools, clinics and development of district centres among others. 

Based on these facts, the Board decided to fine Lafarge Zambia Plc and Mpande Limestone Limited the maximum fine of 10% of their annual turnovers for the two (2) years of 2019 and 2020 for price fixing and market sharing. The Board noted that Dangote Cement Zambia Limited was granted leniency as they were the only Leniency applicant and assisted with investigations.

The Board would also like to take this opportunity to warn businesses that engage in Anti-competitive Business Practises to desist from such conduct. The Commission remains steadfast in its commitment to eliminate any anti-competitive trade practices, which impact negatively on Zambia’s quest to promote a competitive business environment and ensure that ordinary consumers are not exploited.

Namukolo Kasumpa

Cement Price Hike Investigation Concluded

2021-03-17

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) wishes to bring it to the attention of the public that it has been closely observing the operations of the market players in the Cement Market and did in fact institute investigations into possible cartel conduct in January 2020.

To this effect, the Commission wishes to inform the public that it has now concluded its investigation involving the three (3) cement manufacturing companies.

And will, in accordance with guidelines under the Competition and Consumer Protection Act No 24 of 2010, share the investigation findings with the involved parties to ensure adherence to due process, consequently to which the Board of Commissioners will adjudicate on the matter.

The Commission is alive to the high-level public interest in this matter and implores the public to exercise patience allowing the process to reach its logical conclusion at which point, the determination of the Board will be duly communicated.

Namukolo M. Kasumpa

CCPC Fines Seven Fish Fingerlings Producers and Distributors 9% and 10% of their Annual Turnover for Cartel Conduct

2021-03-16

The Board of Commissioners of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has fined seven (7) Fish Fingerlings Producers and Distributors in Zambia upto 10% percent of their annual turnover for price fixing.

The decision to fine the companies was made during the 48th Board of Commissioners meeting on Adjudication of cases held on 5th February 2021. This was after a Commission initiated investigation in April 2020, which found that Fish Fingerlings Producers and Distributors were engaged in a cartel when they issued a public notice for an impending uniform price increment for the price of fish fingerlings.

The seven companies namely; Palabana Fisheries Limited, Mukasa Agro Solutions and Fish Farm Limited, Savana Streams Limited; and Chirundu Bream Farm Limited, First Hatch Investment Limited, Iban Aquafish Solutions and Consultancy Limited; and Msekese Fisheries Limited were involved in collusive practices contrary to Section 8 and 9 of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) No. 24 of 2010.  

Further, the investigation revealed that there was no justification for all  companies to have a common pricing policy as each company had different production  and distribution costs, and would therefore not all take the same time to produce and distribute the fish fingerlings.

The Board noted that the objective of the restrictive agreement not only increased prices of fish fingerlings but also reduced customer choice as competitive pricing was eliminated.

Based on these facts, the Board of Commissioners decided to fine six (6) Fish companies 9% and of their annual turnover and Palabana Fisheries Limited 10% in accordance with Section 8 and 9 of the CCPA.

We would like to warn businesses that are engaged in collusive arrangements to desist from such conduct. The Commission remains steadfast in its commitment to root out collusive and anti-competitive practices which negatively impact on Zambia’s quest to promote a competitive business environment and an inclusive economy for job creation.

Namukolo Kasumpa

CCPC Investigates Extra 24 Limited

2020-07-09
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) wishes to inform the general public in accordance with Section 5(d) and 5(f) of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act No. 24 of 2010 (“the Act”), that Extra 24 Limited, a company dealing in supply of building materials is under investigation, for misleading representations and non-provision of services with reasonable care and skill and within a reasonable time, which conduct appears to be in violation of Section 46(1) as read together with Section 45(a) and Section 45(b); and Section 49(5) of the Act.

This follows numerous complaints received by the Commission from consumers alleging that Extra 24 Limited has been failing to deliver building materials on agreed dates despite receiving payment for the materials and their delivery. Notices of Investigation have since been issued against Extra 24 Limited, but to no avail.

The Commission is thus informing Extra 24 Limited to avail themselves at the Commission offices on or before 15th July, 2020 with appropriate responses to the said allegations as specified in the Notices of Investigations sent. The Commission would further like to bring to the attention of Extra 24 Limited that non-response is a prosecutable offence under Section 55(4) of the Act. In view of this, the Commission wishes to advise the general public to be cautious as they deal with Extra 24 Limited.

The Commission further encourages members of the public who may have similar complaints or information pertaining to the above mentioned investigations, to contact the Commission by calling the toll-free line 5678, lodge a complaint through our website: www.ccpc.org.zm or visit our office on the 4th Floor, Main Post Office Building, Cairo Road, Lusaka

Naomi Fulaza

CCPC Cautions Public against Online Notification Prize Scam.

2020-07-01
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) would like to warn the general public to be cautious of a New Zealand Lotto Award scam which is circulating online requesting consumers to submit their personal information with intent to extort money from people’s accounts.

According to preliminary investigations conducted by the Commission, the scam indicates that the Acculotto Group Organization in collaboration with the National New Zealand Lottery had conducted a first promotional draw on 26th June,2020 in which eight (8) winners were selected for a lump sum of two million five hundred thousand Euro (€2,500,000.00), out of over two million five hundred thousand (2,500,000) email addresses collected worldwide from individuals and companies using a computer ballot system.

The Commission wishes to state that the notification in question is untrue and that there was no such draw conducted by the National New Zealand lottery contrary to what the scam purports.

Thus, the Commission is cautioning the general public not to offer or disclose their personal details such as age, sex, name, address, contact number, nationality, country of residence, National Registration Card (N.R.C), passport,occupation and bank account information.

Further, the public is urged to diligently ascertain the authenticity of any online notification before disclosing any of the aforementioned details as failure to do so may expose them to internet scams and fraudsters.

CCPC also wishes to warn all business enterprises who are perpetuating the dissemination of content aimed at misleading consumers to desist from engaging into such conduct as that is punishable under the Competition and Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) No.24 of 2010.

Namukolo Kasumpa

CCPC Guides Financial Services consumers on payment of loans

2020-06-29
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) wishes to advise consumers of their obiligations to ensure that loan payments are remitted to their respective financial institutions in line with their individual loan agreements.

The Commission has been receiving numerous complaints from members of the public arising from financial institutions penalizing account holders who default on loan payments despite the loans being deducted on their pay slips by employers.

It is important to note that loan agreements are between the individual consumer and the respective financial institution. Therefore, the responsibility sorely lies on the consumers to ensure that loan repayments are remitted to the financial institutions as per agreed terms and conditions.

It is in this regard, that the Commission is calling upon consumers to know their obligations and responsibilities by reading and understanding the information that is provided when engaging into a loan agreement. 

Further, the Commission wishes to reiterate its commitment to ensuring that all consumers are protected in all sectors of the economy. However, it is also imperative that consumers adhere to the terms of all contracts they engage in.

Finally, the Commission is advising affected consumers to engage their respective employers in order to resolve the matter amicably.

Namukolo Kasumpa

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