Stakeholders in Nigeria’s industrial sector have emphasised the need for quick passage of the competition and consumer protection bill, which stands not only to benefit business organisations, but the larger society and the economy.
At a forum organised by the private sector coalition in Lagos on Wednesday, stakeholders said that while lack of enabling law on competition has frustrated many companies from Nigeria, many companies have exploited the lacuna to exploit consumers and frustrate likely competitor, while many other local companies have been forced to close down due to competition with imported goods or monopolists operating in the country.
Resident, Cuts’ International, Consumer sovereignty organisation, Mr. Leonard Ugbajah said that the competition and consumer protection bill, government sponsored, was presented to the national assembly during the terminal period of the Jonathan’s administration, and was not given attention, but has been represented to the national assembly as a private member sponsored bill.
He said that the bill has passed first reading in the Senate and has been referred to a committee for scrutiny, while the House of bill is now undergoing public hearing, having passed two readings in the House of Representatives.
Ugbajah said that even through there are organisations that may be feeding fat on exploitation of monopoly status, the bill has gained the support of cross section of trade groups, and hence there disentwining voices against the bill have waned significantly.
According to him, the competition and consumer protection bill is to be administered by the federal Competition and consumer protection board, and adjudicated by the umpire, the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal.
He said that the bill when passed into law, will ensure that companies does not enjoy monopolist status to exploit consumers and frustrate other entrepreneurs working towards the nation’s economic development.
Ugbajah maintained that the competition law will provide the economy the much needed official instrument for planning and growth, boosts investor confidence and also enhances innovation and competition.
He said that the expected law would not just boost Nigeria’s business environment by guiding against concentration of economic power, or reduction of inequality, but ensures that ensures that job creation and poverty alleviation are elevated.
The consultant lists elements of competition law as price fixing, market division, output restriction, bid rigging and collusion tendering of which many organisations are being investigated and fined in many countries where competition law is in practice.
The law, if operational in Nigeria will prohibit abuse of dominance by companies. Dominance itself is not prohibited but its abuse is prohibited. Such abuse include, discriminatory prices, exclusive dealing, predatory pricing, restriction of output, which thrives under monopoly.