21 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Tariffs Commission Review Hailed

The Competition and Tariffs Commission's intervention in various industries and economic sectors in Zimbabwe has helped in curbing cartel-like behaviour in key industries.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce Mr Mike Bimha made the remarks in Harare yesterday while officially opening a stakeholder seminar on dissemination of results of the Voluntary Peer

Review of Competition Law and Policy.

"The remedial orders by CTC have also helped to purge abusive practices of firms in dominant or monopoly positions in consumer products industries and public utilities. Critically, these have removed entry barriers of a behavioural nature in a number of industries," he said.

Mr Bimha said the voluntary peer review of the implementation of competition law and policy in Zimbabwe was therefore opportune as it afforded the opportunity to review that implementation.

"I'm glad to say that the findings and recommendations of the peer review have since been accepted by my Ministry," said Mr Bimha.

He expressed his gratitude to the capacity building and technical assistance rendered to the CTC by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, which has turned it into an effective competitive authority.

"Zimbabwe is very grateful for the peer review of its competition law and policy that was undertaken in July this year under the auspices of UNCTAD," said Mr Bimha.

"This took place during the Twelfth Session of the Inter-governmental Group of Experts on Competition Law and Policy."

He said the peer review exercise was conducted as a tripartite event involving Zambia and Tanzania was appropriate since the three countries were members of regional groups Sadc and Comesa.

UNCTAD head of Competition and Consumer Policies Branch Mr Hassan Qaqaya congratulated the CTC for volunteering peer review by his organisation.

"Peer review and scrutiny of company laws should have a reflection on domestic competition. We encourage each country to develop a competition policy to reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth," said Mr Qaqaya.

Zimbabwe formally adopted competition policy and law in 1996 with the enactment of the Competition Act (Chapter 14:28). It became the fifth country in East and Southern Africa to do so, after Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. The implementation has produced benefits to the national economy, development of export markets and generation of export earnings and promotion of foreign direct investment.

Established businesses -- particularly companies enjoying monopolies or near monopolies in industries such as beer brewing and cigarettes manufacturing -- were against introduction of the competition law in Zimbabwe. They heavily lobbied Parliamentarians against the passing of the Bill.

Their fears were that the new competition authority would disband monopolies or unbundle conglomerate companies, arguing that Zimbabwe was still a small economy and did not require such an authority.

Delegates yesterday attended the review workshop from Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana, Mauritius, Namibia and South Africa. Other delegates were drawn from Government Ministries and departments, the judiciary, sector regulators, business and consumer associations, law firms, business enterprises and academics.

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