The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) in collaboration with the World Bank Group (WBG), joined advocates of competition law and policy makers as well as competition agencies worldwide in commemorating this year’s World Competition Day which falls on 5th December, 2016 running under the theme: “Combatting Cartels for Inclusive Growth”.
Various activities were held during the commemoration of the day. These activities included; competition articles published in the local Newspapers, television and radio interviews conducted by CCPC in conjunction with Consumer Unity Trust (CUTS).
Speaking during the Commemoration breakfast hosted by the World Bank Group at the Intercontinental Hotel, Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry Permanent Secretary Mrs Kayula Siame said World Competition Day was an important day which aimed to raise awareness about the significance of a competitive environment for a health market place to ensure growth of businesses as well as to benefit consumers and discourage anti-competitive behaviour at a regional level.
“Anti-competitive practises have a negative effect on the growth of a market place and therefore the promotion of competition in our economy is aimed at creating a conducive market environment and level playing field for all players in the economy, “Mrs Kayula said.
Mrs Siame stated that the Ministry had observed concerted practice among business entities to increase prices of goods and services above competitive levels, a situation she said distorts competition on the market and erodes consumer welfare resulting in government developing guidelines to educate businesses on the negative impact of anti-competitive tendencies.
“One of the strategies Government has moved forward in doing as we reach out to businesses is the development of guidelines that ensure that companies understand what they are doing and the implication and impact of anti-competitive business practises on the economy,” she said.
Mrs Siame said that public procurement was a vital aspect of Government spending that enabled the purchase of goods and services necessary for enhancing its service delivery to the general public.
She emphasised the importance of procurement processes not being distorted by cartels and other restrictive business practices which negatively affect the economy.
Mrs Siame said Government recognised the importance of competition in a free market economy, and thanked the CCPC and cooperating partners for organising the event.
“This momentous occasion provides an opportunity for the international competition community to synergise efforts and call for appropriate reforms that will see to it that unfair business practises, bid rigging, cartels and other forms of illegal activities in the market place are removed,” she added.
Speaking at the same event CCPC Executive Director, Chilufya Sampa said cartel conducts were harmful to the economy as they hindered competition in a free market economy.
He stated that the Commission had in the last six (6) years focused on tackling competition enforcement working with other agencies recognizing that collaboration with other institutions would help the Commission to quickly achieve its targets of creating competitive markets and consumer protection in the country.
“The Commission has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Zambia Public Procurement Authority and Anti-Corruption Commission in an effort to enhance collaboration in addressing competition issues in the procurement of goods and services,” Mr Sampa said.
Mr Sampa added that the Commission was committed to fight against anti-competitive practises, bid rigging and other restrictive business practises that have impending adverse effects on the economy if left unchecked by spreading awareness among the general public on the benefits of a competitive market structure as well as harmful effects of anti-competitive activities.
“The Commission has been conducting a number of sensitization programmes mainly targeted at the business community on anti-competitive practices which include an aspect of the risks of bid rigging in procurement tenders. However, this is still on going and we hope to see results of the awareness campaigns,” he said.
Mr Sampa appealed to the business community to make use of the Leniency Programme which was a tool designed for their benefit to avoid fines, penalties and even imprisonment if utilised.