Independence of Competition and Regulatory Agencies: Feasibility? Practicality? And Necessity? The case of Fiji

An essential requirement of a developing nation is the availability of strong competition laws to ensure smooth transition of state reform programs for the achievement of national economic efficiency objectives. In Fiji for example the Commerce Act provides for the establishment of Access Regimes in utility industries to enable competition in markets where duplication of infrastructure would be difficult. This allows possible competitors to operate in the same market as the owner of the infrastructure providing competition to the incumbents resulting in benefits such as lower prices and wider range of services.

Whilst it is the government which appoints the competition agency, it is vital that such institutions are accorded some autonomy in order to execute regulatory functions free of political conflict of interest. The Fiji Commerce Commission whilst accorded independent rights, receives its funding from the state which is controlled by the Ministry of Commerce.

The research for this paper focuses on the structural reform policies of Fiji, a small developing economy in the South Pacific region and the establishment of a competition regulator as part of institutional development arising out of the reform process. Within this context it provides regard to the introduction of competition legislations and the government’s initiative to bestow importance to this legislation as an initiative to provide protection to its citizens from unethical practices with increasing trade and commerce.

It will review the efficiency of the commission in light with the cases brought before it and the expected outcome. It will also discuss in detail the specific feature of the competition regulator such as; accountability, autonomy, political independence, appointment procedures and budgetary support. It will also briefly compare these specific features with a competition regulator in another developing country.

The main purpose of this research will be to measure the independence of competition regulator in Fiji and its impact on regulatory efficacy