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Trade Minister Harps on Business Competitiveness

Nov 3, 2009, 1:46 PM | Article By: Sainey MK Marenah

The Minister of Trade Industry, and Employment Mr. Yusupha Kah, has said that the Gambian economy is rife with examples of Anti Competitive Business Practices in all sectors.

He said such practices harm consumers and prejudices economic operators. These anti competitive practices include collusive agreements, bid rigging, tried selling, predatory pricing, exclusive dealing, resale prices maintenance and cartel.

Mr. Kah said this over the weekend at the 2nd National References Meeting organised by Pro Poor Advocacy at the Seaview Hotel.

According to Mr. Kah, effective competition regimes on the other hand can have big impact on the welfare of the poor, saying that over priced goods and unsuitable products harm the poor tremendously.

"The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Employment and the Competition Commission will continue working on the tools and policies of competition reform to deal with market inefficiencies and stimulate growth. I am convinced that this project will immensely benefit those entrusted with the responsibility of developing and implementing the Gambia competition legislation," he said.

"Competition regulation across all sectors is a nascent phenomenon in The Gambia. My ministry with assistance from Commonwealth secretariat facilitated the formation of the Competition Act in 2007 with the view to fostering fair competition that increases economic efficiency and safeguard consumer welfare," he added.

He revealed that his ministry has also prepared the accompanying procedural rules and guidelines, noting that the economic and legal guidelines are instruments for the determination of the cases that should be heard while the procedural rules are indispensable to clearly stipulate the various procedures the commission should follow when dealing with cases.

"My ministry," he added "will not hesitate to review the law to match changing socio-economic realities and public interest concern, stressing that he was pleased to say that his ministry facilated the setting up of the Gambia Competition Commission and the institution was formally inaugurated in August 2009."

According to Mr. Yusupha Kah, the government believes in the private sector led growth and development as spelt out in the Vision 2020 blueprint and the country MDG based PRSP. Asserting that it is therefore, imperative to make sure that business operates on a level playing field, our role as government is to alleviate poverty and provide the enabling environment for the private sector led growth.

"The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Employment seeks to promote fair markets and to enchance consumers' welfare for economic development and poverty reduction and the Gambian economy thrives on free market policies," he said.

Minister Kah revealed that as part of 7UP4 project, CUTS Centre for competition, investment, and economic regulations will be building the capacity of national constituents to prepare them for the implementation of viable competition regimes and will also be supporting advocacy iniatives for competition reforms.

In conclusion, Mr. Kah added that the private sector requires the right enabling environment and a conductive investment climate to thrive, and assured that The Gambia Government through his ministry would seek to implement competition regimes that are appropriate to our needs and situations. He said his ministry is indeed committed to promoting a functional competition regime comprising effective competition legislation, and an independent competition authority supported by a wide group of stakeholders.

Under such a regime, Minister Kah further added business operators can only adopt fair means such as producing quality goods, becoming cost efficient, adopting the best available technology and investing in research and development to be innovative and offer choices and quality to the quality.