. The Master of Ceremonies
. The Executive Director of the Competition and Fair Trading
Commission; Mrs Charlotte Wezi Malonda
. Chief Executive Officers of various companies and
organisations or your representatives;
. Directors and members of staff of the Competition and Fair
. Distinguished participants;
. Members of the press;
.Ladies and Gentlemen.
I’m delighted to stand before you this morning to perform the official opening of this high level private sector meeting for Chief Executives on implementation of the Competition and Fair Trading Act which has been organised by the Competition and Fair Trading Commission.
I’m particularly delighted to see that all sectors of our economy are represented at this meeting. I wish to join the Executive Director of the Commission in commending CEOs present here for finding time to attend this very important meeting despite their busy schedules.
As the Commission, we do not take your participation for granted and therefore thank you most sincerely.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, this meeting tackles one of the cornerstones of a vibrant economy, that is, competition. Competition gives rise to a more efficient allocation and utilisation of resources and promotes consumer welfare through competitive prices for goods and services.
In any economy, vigorous competition results in lower prices, higher quality of goods and services and top draw innovations leading to new products and services and wider consumer choice. The absence of competition can be a barrier to investment as existing business operators may use their dominant market power to block new investments or business expansion into their markets. Further, it makes business operators to become less innovative and less interested to produce and market goods and services that satisfy consumer needs.
It is against this background that the Government of Malawi enacted the Competition and Fair Trading Act as part of economic reforms aimed at creating an enabling environment where the private sector can easily thrive.
The Competition and Fair Trading Act enumerates a number of business practices which are anti-competitive and establishes the Competition and Fair Trading Commission, as an enforcement agency to ensure adherence to competition and fair trading principles.
Since 2005, the Competition and Fair Trading Commission has been operating under the Ministry of Industry and Trade. I am however, pleased to inform you that, in recognition of the important role that the Commission is playing Government has with effect from July 2013 started funding the Commission directly. This has been done to ensure that the Commission
operates autonomously and effectively.
The Commission is a semi-judicial body which is charged with the responsibility of adjudicating over cases on competition and fair trading. This adjudication function of the Commission is done by the Board of Commissioners while the Secretariat, in addition to managing the day to day operations of the Commission, undertakes investigations of cases. The purpose for this division of responsibilities is to ensure that there a separation between case investigation and case adjudication.
The Board of Commissioners consist of representative from a cross section of the economy and include two private sector representatives, a lawyer, an economist, an accountant, two civil society representatives and three ex-official members representing the Government.
As you can note the Board of Commissioners come from diverse backgrounds and interests. This was deliberately done to ensure fairness and objectivity in the operations of the Commission.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to report that the Commission has investigated and resolved several cases of anti-competitive and unfair business practices in the marketplace to the benefit of the Malawian economy as well as consumers. The cases that the Commission has handled are those that were brought before it.
I am however, aware, that there a lot of anti-competitive and unfair business practices that are happening in various parts of the country. These cases go unreported and therefore people suffer without knowing where to seek redress.
Although the Act was passed in 1998, it is still new among most Malawians. This therefore needs to be taken to the home of every business and consumer. This is why I applaud the Executive Director of the Commission and her staff for organising this meeting to sensitize the private sector and consumers about their rights and obligations under the Competition and Fair Trading Act.
Without doubt, advocacy and stakeholder engagement initiatives of this nature, promote healthy competition. Not only do these initiatives deter the private sector from engaging in anti-competitive business practices, they also encourage individual companies and trade associations to evaluate the effects of their policies on competition.
Over and above this, companies strive to reduce deceptive or unfair business practices that harm consumer welfare.
I would therefore like to take this opportunity to appeal to the private sector to comply with the provisions in the Competition and Fair Trading Act. As a Commission, we would like to see a significant reduction in business practices that abuse consumers. May I also take this opportunity to appeal to the Secretariat of the Commission to leave no stone unturned in its quest to protect consumers and ensure effective enforcement of the Act.
In closing, I would like to thank you all for accepting to attend this important meeting. I hope that from the discussions that follow, participants will fully appreciate competition and fair trading issues as provided for in the Act.
It is now my singular honour and privilege to declare this high level private sector meeting for CEOs officially opened.
I thank you for your attention