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ISLAMABAD: The implementation of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP)’s enquiries/orders in key sectors including sugar, wheat, poultry, cement, automobile, glass, telecom, medical, fertiliser, banks, and stock exchange remain suspended due to stay orders by courts.

Under its enforcement mandate, the CCP only intervenes in the market if the business undertakings engage in anti-competitive practices which, inter alia, include the abuse of dominance, cartelisation, and deceptive marketing practices. The Commission promotes competition and market competitiveness and it is not a price fixing regulator.

The dysfunctional Competition Appellate Tribunal is unable to take decisions against sugar, automobile, poultry, and cement, and other sectors. The Competition Appellate Tribunal has become dysfunctional since 14 July 2023, due to the expiry of the term of chairman Appellate Tribunal.

The absence of a specialised appellate forum increased pressure on the courts. As many as 210 cases await resolution in the Competition Appellate Tribunal. Todate, a total of 559 cases have been pending in various courts including 170 cases pending in the Supreme Court.

Total penalties imposed by the CCP amount to approximately Rs 68 billion. Cartels, in an attempt to obstruct the recovery of penalties, continue to challenge the CCP's orders in courts and obtain stay orders on specific inquiries. To date, the Commission has imposed Rs 6.3 billion in the cement sector, over 11 billion in the telecom sector, over one billion in the electronic goods sector, Rs 140 million in the automobile sector, Rs 300 million in the insurance sector, Rs 75 million to flour mills associations, and Rs44 billion in the sugar sector.

The CCP’s mandate includes regulating behaviour and, in this regard, anti-competitive practices which may include cartelisation, and abuse of dominance. Intervention at CCP’s end on the price aspect is restricted to price fixing by commercial undertakings or abuse of dominance, in particular unreasonable price increase by a dominant player in the relevant market.

On September 25, 2023, Dr Kabir Ahmed Sidhu met chairman CCP and conveyed to Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akhtar that the dysfunctional Competition Appellate Tribunal is unable to take decisions against sugar, automobile, poultry, and cement sectors.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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