LAHORE: Pakistan’s Competition Commission was considered one of the three most respected anti-monopoly and anti-trust organisations in the region as discussed at the Istanbul competition conference last year, a workshop held by the CCP was told.
This statement was made by William Evan Kovacic, a former US government official, in a two-day international conference on ‘Challenges in implementing competition law in developing countries’ on Tuesday. Kovacic was the Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission of America during the tenure of President George W Bush. Khalid Mirza, the chairman of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) responded by saying, “I have said a lot about competition and so have my colleagues. Now it is time for international luminaries to speak about our problems.”
But Mirza used the platform to express doubts about the new bill under which the CCP will operate in the future. He said that timing could be an issue. Earlier, speaking to participants, Kovacic said that none of the other competition enforcing authorities around the world in their first years had done and gone as far as the CCP in Pakistan.
“Pakistan has done very well in developing a strong competition law enforcing agency,” he noted. Kovacic said that competition organizations needed a better relationship with the judiciary and advised the CCP not to bypass them “Robber barons are acceptable in Asia as long as they are the giving sort. Asia is lagging behind all regions except for Sub-Saharan Africa as a result,” Kovacic stated.
“The judicial system does not work in most Asian countries, this upsets the work of competition agencies,” he added. He said that if the CCP is respected and has a stature, then it would be beneficial as the judges would defer to their expert opinion. Antitrust and competition practice expert Joseph Angland said that the judiciary starts with anti-trust agencies and tries to implement what they learnt so many years ago in economics to what they are trying to deal with.
On the basis of this, they decide what the competition law should and should not allow the antitrust organisation to do. He said that the competition agency was the expert and had the experience and the knowledge in the field. “The problems arise from the court making decisions about what it can and cannot do,” he commented. The senate standing committee for finance is similar in this case as they do not have the knowledge of what the CCP and Anti-trust competition law is but they are still going to make the decision, he added.
To a question of how time will be an issue in the new bill, Mirza said that the new bill states that a tribunal will be formed within a month and the tribunal will be required to give and pass judgment on the matter within six months. However, Mirza said his team was not confident about this measure being completed in time.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 12th, 2010.