The Federal Government is deliberating the creation of a new sets of reform laws that will check unfair trade practices and possible Monopoly, following the current policy to privatize most of government run businesses.
The new reform laws will amongst other things restrict the formation of cartels, check collusive practices regarded as being in restraint of trade, as well as protect consumers against unwholesome trade practices.
The new laws include the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection bill 2014 and the Nigeria Postal Commission bill.
The new set of laws when passed will also restrict the mergers and acquisitions of organizations which could substantially lessen competition and prohibit the creation of a monopoly and the abuse of such monopoly powers.
Briefing journalists after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting which lasted for about 20minutes, the Information Minister, Labaran Maku said the Nigerian economy presently does not have any such laws and specific agencies that deals with the issues of abuse of trade practices, anti-trust and monopolies
The laws, Maku said will also restrict the mergers and acquisitions of organizations which could substantially lessen competition and prohibit the creation of a monopoly and the abuse of such monopoly powers.
According to him the two new Bills when made into law, will boost private sector participation and provide level playing ground in the various sectors of the Nigerian economy, as well as support transformation achievements recorded in the Nigerian economy in the past ten years.
The bills, he said, will prevent anti-trust and monopolistic practices in the Nigerian economy.
FEC set up two committees on the different headed by Vice President Namadi Sambo, with relevant ministers as members, was set up to further look at the bills before final copies are sent to the National Assembly for consideration.
The committee has been given two weeks within which to work on the bills and present them to the federal executive council before their transmission to the National Assembly for consideration and passage.
Maku noted that “The Nigerian economy has been undergoing fundamental reforms for the past ten years. These reforms have been aimed at achieving a transition from a state-dominated economy, where all the key sector of the economy are dominated by government parastatals to transit into a market-driven economy that opens all sector of economy to private sector competition.”
“Now in the course of these reforms, a number of government agencies and companies have been privatized in the last ten years or have been opened up for competition. The purpose of the reform is to ensure that where government has constituted a clog in the wheel of progress, particularly in key sectors, we opened them up to ensure increased private sector investments.”
“In the course of these reforms, it has become very clear that unless we undertake serious policy legal framework to ensure competition in the economy, what will happen is that the previous monopoly exercised by government companies or parastatals in the key sectors of the economy will simply be repeated by private sector monopoly as people who buy these companies may block further development of the sector unless you have in place a legal framework that regulates competition in the economy.”
Maku noted that the creation of such agency was necessary in every open economy if competition is to thrive towards developing the economy.
“Wherever you do not have legal framework to regulate the economy, to prevent anti-trust, to prevent abuse of trade practices, what happens is that one or two companies could quickly take over and monopolise sectors of the economy and prevent other people from coming in.
“And that kind of thing reduces the capacity of the economy to prosper. In addition to this, without legal framework to achieve competition and enforce good trade practices, consumers are doomed. People will engage in restrictive trade practices or dumping, for example, to prevent other players from selling in the economy” he said.
On the Nigeria Postal Commission bill, Maku noted that the sector has been dominated by the government over the years and there is a need to reform the postal sector in order to allow the private sector to come in.