The Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) has condemned persisting anti-competitive and unfair trade practises which it says contravenes the commissionâ€™s Act of 1998.
Newly-appointed CFTC board chairperson Felix Jumbe condemned the practices on Thursday in Lilongwe at a news conference aimed at briefing journalists on the current status regarding the implementation of the Competition and Fair Trading Act.
The commissionâ€™s observations come on the back of a widespread outcry by consumers across the country over continued prevalence of anti-competitive and restrictive business practices such as price fixing, bid rigging-where companies collude in submitting bids for tenders-and hoarding of goods, among others.
“For instance, it is not uncommon to see messages like â€˜goods once purchased are not returnableâ€™ displayed in shops or finding companies agreeing to charge a uniform price. Such practices or acts are prohibited under the Act,” said Jumbe.
He said the Act gives powers to the commission to monitor monopolies and concentration of market power as well as regulate mergers and acquisitions.
Jumbe noted that since the commission was established in 2005, there have been increased cases of unfair trade practices as most businesspeople have not been complying with the law.
He said while the Act provides penalties for offenders, it is not the intention of the commission to evoke the punitive provisions of the Act.
“Our main focus at the moment is to ensure that stakeholders are sensitised about the Act so as to achieve voluntary compliance,” said Jumbe.
He aid the commission wants to first sensitise stakeholders before slapping penalties, adding they do not want to penalise offenders, but that they would want to give them an opportunity to comply with the Act.
He said the spirit of the Competition and Fair Trading Act is to motivate companies to exercise restraint with regard to anti-competitive and unfair trade practices.
Jumbe argued that competition among business operators is beneficial as it promotes economic efficiency, thereby generating lower prices, increasing choices of products or services for consumers and spurring economic growth in the process.
But he noted that since its establishment, the commission has made substantial progress in curbing anti-competitive and unfair trade practices.
He said this has been done by investigating proposed company takeovers considered to likely cause adverse effects on competition.
Jumbe also said the commission has investigated and authorised 20 applications for mergers and acquisitions and some of them were approved subject to companies fulfilling certain public interest conditions.
Recently, President Joyce Banda appointed a new board of commissioners for CFTC whose main responsibility is to oversee implementation of the Competition and Fair Trading Act.