Forces are out to butcher anti-trust law


Express May 04, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Certain “forces” are out to butcher the state-of-theart anti-trust law, alleged Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) Chairman Khalid Mirza on Tuesday.

Without naming these forces, the CCP chairman said that so far amendments proposed in the competition law would weaken the anti-trust law instead of strengthening it. “If proposed amendments are incorporated into the bill, it would further weaken the law, which has already been dented by giving the aggrieved parties a right to appeal against CCP decisions in high courts instead of the Supreme Court,” the dejected chairman said while addressing a press conference here on Tuesday.

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue today (Wednesday) is again taking up the Competition Commission Bill 2010. During the last meeting, the majority of the members of the committee had proposed that the CCP should not have the authority to impose fines as high as 15 per cent of turnover of a company.

They had recommended that the maximum fine should be 25 per cent of total profit for a specific year. Senator Haroon had proposed that on continuous violation, per day penalty should be reduced to Rs100,000 from one million rupees. The majority of the members also had recommended that the CCP should not have unlimited powers to enter and search premises of offending companies. Instead, they had proposed that the Commission should seek permission from an independent authority before searching premises.

The committee had invited the alleged violators of the competition law to give recommendations to amend the proposed CCP bill. Representatives of sugar, cement and banking associations suggested limiting the Commission’s powers to impose fines and enter premises. The CCP has already either fined or is investigating these associations. The Senate committee is headed by an industrialist Senator Ahmed Ali and majority of the members have a business background.

The members include Senator Haroon Akhtar who or his family owns sugar mills, Senator Ilyas Bilour, owner of a ghee mill, Senator Safdar Abbasi, Senator Sughra Imam, Senator Talha Mahmood, Senator Ishaq Dar, Senator Professor Khurshid, Senator Islamuddin Sheikh, Senator Kulsum Parveen and Senator Javed Ali Shah. Khalid Mirza said that instead of agreeing upon the proposed amendments, parliament should withdraw the amendment of giving the right to appeal against the CCP decision in high courts.

“I am unable to understand why these forces have a problem with the Supreme Court.” He questioned that why consumer representatives were not invited in the last meeting of the Senate’s Standing Committee and why only people from certain industries were invited to give suggestions on the new anti-trust law.

Khalid Mirza expressed the hope that CCP would continue getting support from all quarters in true implementation of the competition law. He said that the legislation and implementation of competition law is a major challenge faced by developing countries.

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