establish commission to apply competition act
express, Bangladesh, July 03, 2012
and civil society leaders Monday put emphasis on the proper
implementation of competition law for the benefit of consumers and
businesses in the country.
They, however, expressed their frustration over the
non-effectiveness of various commissions in the country because of
the political influence and lack of government support to run
those institutions independently.
They said that the 'Competition Act 2012' has been passed by
parliament with specific objectives to promote economic
development of the country by creating a better environment for
private sector in terms of efficiency in production and pricing
decision and for the benefit of consumers and producers.
The observations came in the conference on "Moving the Competition
Law Agenda Forward in Bangladesh: Possible Implementation
Concerns' at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in the city.
Unnayan Shamannay and CUTS International jointly organised the
event supported by International Finance corporation (IFC).
Study Team Leader of Unnayan Shamannay Dr AK Enamul Haque presided
over the inaugural session of the programme while Commerce
Minister GM Quader was present as the chief guest.
The participants in the conference strongly suggested to the
government to form a commission in order to maintain and promote
competition through preventing and eliminating all forms of
anti-competitive behaviour from the market.
Prof at George Washington Law School and former commissioner at
Federal Trade Commission of USA William Kovacic said good
leadership and adequate skilled manpower are important for proper
implementation of competition law in Bangladesh.
The commerce minister said the competition law was passed in
parliament in consultation with all stakeholders considering the
benefit of people and businesses.
"It is an international standard law which is pro-people and
business friendly and has covered more or less all aspects of
businesses," he said.
He said that only government alone could not implement the
competition law rather it highly needs people's support and
cooperation to reap benefit from the law.
Mr Quader has said the government would be very careful to check
the artificial price hike of essential commodities during the
upcoming holy month of Ramadan.
Meanwhile, businesses, politicians, academics and civil society
members said the head of the proposed commission to implement
Competition Act 2012 needs to be a man of strong nerve and guts
who will stand by the government and be ready to resign in case of
problems created by the government in exercising the commissions'
Apex Group chairman Syed Manzur Elahi observed that the nation has
been suffering from frustration as it has lots of laws but without
any enforcement and there are many commissions which are in real
He said the first challenge in implementing the law is to have a
proper commission, meaning whether the commission will be chosen
by any political party or will be established as per its merit.
Again the partisanship comes in if any ruling party comes in, they
should have the political will to catch a businessman or
investigate a business belonging to that party, he added.
"Sadly the scenario in Bangladesh is that it is a polarized
country where one belongs to either party A or B. If somebody
belongs to the ruling party then everything is OK. But if he
belongs to the opposition then everything is wrong," said the
veteran business leader.
He suggested appointment of an outspoken person to the commission
who has the courage to make understand the government head that
the law applies for all and people will even accept a tough
administration provided it is fair and does not have a double
"That political will or that much power should emanate from the
head of the government down to the chairman," he said.
"The head of the government should say you work freely,
independently and whatever you do, I will support you provided you
are fair…The commission member should have independence, power and
there should be political back up," Mr Elahi, a former caretaker
He said the other commissions are not working well and there are
lots of confusions over the election commission which is the most
He emphasised on exemplary punishment of those businesspeople or
government officials involved in committing grievous mistakes or
irregularities irrespective of their political identity as there
is a clause of punishment in the law.
Mr Elahi said people do not have confidence in tax ombudsman and
businesspeople are afraid of going there fearing injustice and
Asif Ibrahim said private sector is fully supportive of the law as
they were involved in drafting of the law.
He suggested strong knowledge base for familiarisation of economic
and social benefits of competition to break the vicious circle of
business syndicates that are responsible for the price hike of
Lawmaker Tipu Munshi said big businesses practicing monopoly try
to drive away other businesses and devour them very often. This
law will benefit not only consumers but ensure growth for the good
He said the head of the commission should be a person of strong
nerve and personality who will be aware of any undue advantage
taken by any person or exert influence on his activities. This way
the commission will not fail like other commissions and will earn
confidence of people, he added.
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