By Turaki Hassan, Special Adviser, Media and Public Affairs to House Speaker.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has said that the establishment of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission as passed by the House will help pull Nigeria out of recession.
Commenting on the passage of the Bill by the House last week, Dogara stated that the two economic bills, Public Procurement amendment bill and Competition bill passed by the House are designed deliberately to jumpstart the economy to pull Nigeria out of recession.
According to the Speaker, “competition regulation impacts positively on production of goods and services, they, in themselves, engender competition in an economy. Where you have an economy where key players, all players are not competing but colluding, there is no way that economy can deliver innovation because whether you compete or not, you can still sell your products with some kind of good profit, so you are not bothered about what goes on there.”
Dogara maintained that for any market to deliver innovation, it must be competitive “..The essence of this regulation, therefore, is to make our markets competitive in the sense that if you look at our markets, be it the telecommunications or the pay TV market,etc, consumers are dealing with a monopoly price and the reason is that there is no regulation guiding competition in our markets.”
The Speaker stated that when established the Commission will kick-start true competition in the market that may lead to lowering of prices and it will also have the capacity to engender innovation and make our markets competitive.
He also allayed fears that the Bill as passed by the House seeks to punish monopolies or those with considerable market power, “that is not the essence of the Bill. As a matter of fact, some businesses are better carried out by a monopoly, but what the Bill seeks to achieve is to punish those who have powers of monopoly, or who have considerable market power in any given market, where they abuse that power.”
The Speaker further revealed that “if you act in a way that distorts competition in the market, whether you are a monopoly or not, you will be punished and on Consumer Rights, it proposes that anyone who contravenes any consumer rights commits an offence and is liable upon conviction to imprisonment of a term not exceeding 5 years or the payment of a fine not exceeding ten million naira (N10m).”
He said the proposed law protects consumers as they will take the benefits of competition in the markets which will result in innovation and creation of more jobs because there will be more lines of businesses as innovation takes root in the market.
“Competition naturally results in reducing the cost of products and prices of goods in the market and for some of my colleague lawyers, this provides a wonderful area of the legal practice that can be exploited and for our economy to be modern, we cannot really run away from establishing this law,” he added.