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February 4, 2011

‘CCP policy to correct business behaviour starts paying off’

Business

February 4, 2011

LAHORE: The policy of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) to correct business behaviour through dialogue instead of penalty has started paying off as a large number of businesses have shown willingness to stop anti-competitive practices, a senior official of the commission said on Thursday.
“We as a competition agency do not want to harass businesses, but want to discipline them,” said Rahat Kaunain Hassan, Chairperson, Competition Commission of Pakistan, while addressing members of the Lahore Economic Journalists Association.
She termed the decision of the commission on cartelised behaviour of Jute Mills a landmark achievement where the mill-owners admitted their fault and the commission took lenient view, while imposing penalties.
She said the Jute Mills Association when confronted with the facts available with the CCP admitted the wrongdoing and gave a pledge to reform themselves in line with the competition law.
The commission took lenient view because of their cooperative behaviour and willingness to reform and imposed small penalty of Rs2.3 million, she said, adding two small jute mills were slapped with penalty of Rs1 million each, while the remaining jute mills were fined Rs2 million each. The Jute Mills Association was fined Rs5 million.
Cartels are considered as criminal across the world and some sort of fine has to be imposed. In this case, she said, the penalty was nominal as compared with the penalties imposed on other cartels exposed by the commission.
In the case of deceptive marketing, the commission has most of the times not imposed any penalties when the party confronted agreed to remove the irritants identified by the commission regarding deceptive marketing, she said.
Regarding fate of several high profile cases in which businesses have been highly penalised, she said that these penalised parties have exercised their right to appeal.
She said the final decision on litigations against the decision of the

competition agencies takes several years.
“On our part we have pursued all the cases diligently, but the litigants are using every facility available in the law to drag the cases.”
The impact of the final decisions on the orders passed by the commission, she said, will be crucial for the promotion of competition and fair trade practices in the country.
“Whether the CCP orders are upheld or rejected a judicial precedent would be set for future guidance of the commission,” she said.

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