Senate blocks business monopoly with new bill
The Senate has approved a bill seeking to end all forms of business monopolies in Nigeria and promote trade competition in the 36 states of the federation.
The lawmakers therefore approved scrapping of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and ratified its replacement with the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
The bill sponsored by Senator Andy Uba (PDP, Anambra South) having passed a second reading, was directed moved to Committee on Trade and Investment to conclude all legislative work on the issue and report back within four weeks.
A statement signed by Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, said the latest 2017 report released Tuesday, October 25, and which ranked Nigeria 169 out of 189 countries was good indication that the focus and tenacity of President Buhari to reposition the nation’s business and economic environment was working.
While Nigeria’s position remained the same last year on the index ranking, it has recorded confident outlooks in four critical areas namely: Starting a Business, Dealing with Construction Permits, Registering Property and Access to Credit.
However, the Senate believed promotion of business competition would be achieved by provisions of the bill, which would “control existing monopolies, discourage the abuse of dominant market position, and other restrictive trade and business practices.”
Experts say the proposal is part of Reform Bills, highlighted by the 8th Senate at the inaugural National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable in March 2016.
Leading the debate on principles of the bill, Uba said its essence was to promote: a balanced development of the Nigerian economy; welfare and interests of consumers, providing them with competitive price and product choices; competition and enhanced economic efficiency in production, trade and commerce; expansion of opportunities for domestic enterprises, to participate in world markets; ability of small and medium enterprises to compete effectively; and restriction of business practices which prevent or distort competition or constitute abuse of a dominant position of market power in Nigeria.”
In an interview, Uba said the bill was initiated because “It is necessary to ensure through legislation that monopolistic enterprises in our country do not take undue advantage of and hurt consumers at will.”
The spirit of the bill intends to amongst other things, criminalize a situation where any two or more enterprises that are suppliers of products enter into or carry out any agreement where they “withhold supplies of products from dealers (whether parties to the agreement or not) who resell or have resold products in breach of any condition as to the price at which those goods may be resold; refuse to supply products to such dealers except on terms and conditions, which are less favourable than those applicable to other dealers carrying on business is similar circumstances.”
Analysts say the emerging law may tame price gangsterism in Nigeria.