The Trade, Integration and Employment minister has expressed confidence that The Gambia Competition and Consumers' Protection Commission (GCCPC) will continue to pursue any evidence of cartels, abuses of dominance and other illegal anti-competitive activities in any sector of the economy as mandated by the Competition Act 2007.
He said their objective is a healthy competition in all sectors of the economy, thus stressing the need for independent agencies like GCCPC to ensure that the playing field is leveled, that barriers to entry are low and the rules of the game are reasonable. Minister Abdou Colley was speaking Tuesday while presiding over the opening of a day's validation workshop on 'Tourism Market Study' at a local hotel in Kololi. The minister argued that merely having a competition law by itself cannot produce or ensure competition in the market unless this is facilitated by appropriative government policies. But on the other hand, he cautioned that government policies without a law to enforce such policies and prevent competition malpractices would also be incomplete. "This is why section 15(k) of the Act, which calls for market studies, is very apt in that it allows them to look at policies and enforcement at the same time. The market study is one of the ways the GCCPC promotes competition in the economy," he told the stakeholders.
Colley underscored further that the benefits of competition in markets are now rarely questioned, noting that as a Ministry, they are aware that market competition is the life force of a modern economy.
"This is a commendable initiative towards increasing awareness about competition law within the tourism fraternity because forums like this will contribute substantially to the spread of competition culture and improving levels of compliance of the Competition Act, which in the end, would be beneficial both for the economy as well as individual business themselves," he remarked. He added: "This is why my Ministry spearheaded the passage of the Competition Act 2007, which is aimed at securing vibrant competition in all areas of the economy based in the interest of the consumers and promoting increased productivity, innovation and sustained economic growth and development of the country."
Minister Colley explained that the aim of the market study was to assess competition in a particular area and recommend ways of improving it to the benefit of the economy and consumers in general. He stressed that implementing the recommendations of a market study does not mean that the sector has been given a "clean bill of health", noting that such aims to encourage and facilitate competition.
Minister Colley concluded by stressing that the Commission would need partnership and support from all institutions ranging from government to industry and consumer associations and professional institutions in order to succeed in fulfilling its mandate. The director general of The Gambia Tourism Board, Benjamin Roberts at the forum, said the report depicts the real fact in that the growth of tourism competition among tour operators and hoteliers is very necessary. Roberts pointed out the dominance by certain players over others in the hotel industry, making reference to a particular operator that enjoys 50 percent of the market shares. The permanent secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Momodou Joof, also spoke at the occasion chaired by the chairperson of the GCCPC board of commissioners, Janet Sallah-Njie.