The Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CfTC) has launched an investigation into alleged anti-competitive and unfair trading conduct by some players in the provision of funeral services on the market.
The probe follows a complaint submitted to the commission by some funeral service providers in the country alleging that Goodwill Funeral Services sealed an agreement with Nico Life Insurance Company Limited to exclusively provide funeral services to members of the Medical Aid Society of Malawi (Masm).
The agreement is allegedly preventing other funeral service providers from providing funeral services to Masm members as this is considered to be exclusive to Goodwill Funeral Services and its affiliates in Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu.
The conduct is alleged to be restricting competition in the provision of funeral services for Masm members, with Masm holding 80 percent share of the private health insurance market in the country and a network of over 300 healthcare service providers.
In a statement made available to Business News, CfTC acting executive director Apoche Itimu said the main objective of the enquiry is to establish whether there are anti-competitive and unfair trading practices or agreements in the funeral services market.
In the statement, she said: “ As regards to the agreements, the commission seeks to understand whether there are unilateral,
collusive or vertical arrangements that prevent, restrict or distort competition on the market.”
When contacted on Friday, both Nico Life Insurance Company Limited chief executive officer Eric Chapola and Goodwill Funeral Services managing director Anderson Green Mankhusu refused to comment on the matter, saying the issue is under probe.
Masm chuef executive officer Sydney Chikoti was yet to respond to our query on the mater by press time.
One of the funeral service providers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the agreement has made it difficult for clients to opt for funeral service providers of their choice and has made it difficult for new entrants to penetrate the market.
Consumers Association of Malawi executive director John Kapito on Friday observed that the allegations have the potential to create uncompetitive behaviour on the market and in the long-run, “consumers will pay higher prices due to lack of competition”.