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October 4, 2015

CCP grants one week more to elite schools to furnish info

National

October 4, 2015

ISLAMABAD: After decision to disallow fees hike by elite schools, the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has granted one week more to owners and board of directors of some schools for providing required information to the CCP.
Some schools had approached the CCP, requesting to grant two to three week’s time for providing the required information on the basis of arguments because of Eid holidays. However, the CCP has granted them extension of one week that will expire by coming week.
In another attempt on hearing of Lahore High Court, one major school chain tried to get stay order on the show cause notice issued by the CCP for probing cartelisation and abuse of dominance by presenting arguments that the education is a provincial subject so it does not fall under the jurisdiction of federal agency to undertake any investigation on this subject.
But CCP argued before the honourable judge of LHC that they were probing alleged cartelisation and abuse of dominance that directly comes under their jurisdiction and these schools should cooperate with them to ensure free and fair investigation into matter of public interest.
When Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered to close down schools which are not reversing the decision to hike fees, the elites’ schools have taken back decision to hike their fees.
One school chain had informed the parents that they had already issued fee challans on the basis of revised fees for August-September 2015 prior to the amendment in the Punjab Private Educational Institutions (promotion and regulation) Ordinance 1984. The majority had already paid their fees. The school has instructed the banks not to impose any late payment charges till the expiry date of August-September Challan on October 7, 2015.
Any additional amounts paid in Aug-September shall be adjusted against future fees as required by the recently amended Ordinance. Furthermore, the school shall be issuing its next fees Challan for Oct-Nov 2015 at the

old rates (2014-15).
The school communication conveyed to parents that please note that this is rapidly developing situation and if the present circumstances change and/or the ordinance is modified the School reserves its right to recover the fees at increased rates from 2015-16.
In order to probe cartelisation of elite schools for hiking unjustified fee structure, the CCP had issued notices to Chief Executive Officer (CEOs) and Board of Directors of 8 schools chain for providing required information in seven days.
As a result of refusal of elite schools to provide the required information to ascertain anti-competitive behaviour owing to hike in fee structure without having any justified reasons, the CCP by showing its muscles issued order binding the CEOs and members of board of directors of 8 schools to share information. The CEOs and directors of private education institutes that were issued orders included the City School, Beaconhouse, Elementary Montessori School, Headstart School, Roots Millennium School, The Lahore ALMA, LACAS and Salamat School System.
“The findings of the inquiry will determine its fate and if the Commission decides to proceed against them then heavy penalty amounting to billions of rupees can be imposed,” said the sources.
The CCP has issued an order under Section 36 of the Competition Act, 2010 (the ‘Act’) to the CEOs and directors of eight private education institutions for the provision of information required for assessing allegations of anti-competitive practices - such as unreasonable increase in school fees and tying of products and services - against these schools.
The Commission is currently investigating allegations of potential anti-competitive behaviour by private education institutions across Pakistan. The Commission received more than 1,000 complaints from all over the country. Accordingly, around 123 schools in various parts of the country were asked to provide relevant information vis-à-vis their fee structures, student’s strength, reasons for increasing fees and allied charges, etc.
Although many institutions provided the information, others either did not or replied with incomplete and irrelevant information, despite repeated reminders by the Commission.
Thus the CCP deemed it necessary to issue an order to such institutions under Section 36 of the Act. Section 36 empowers the Commission to issue a special or general order calling upon undertakings to furnish information that the Commission deems necessary or useful for discharging its functions as envisioned in the Act. Failure to provide the requisite information may make the CEOs and directors of these undertakings liable to strict penalties and other sanctions under Section 38 of the Act.

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