Daily Independent, Nigeria, January 17, 2010

Abuja — Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and two civil society organisations have blamed continued poverty scourge and underdevelopment of most African countries on inadequate competition law and policy.

ECOWAS Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International and Consumer Empowerment Organisation of Nigerian (CEON) made this observation at a regional training workshop on competition law enforcement in Abuja at the weekend.

They noted that adequate competition policy and law are momentum to economic development of any economy.

According to CUTS International’s Centre Coordinator and Deputy Head, Rijit Sengupa, over 100 countries, both in developed and developing economies, have already adopted competition law and policy, while others are considering or are in the process of developing the policies.

Competition policies are government measures that affect competition, by directly affecting the behaviour of enterprises and the structures of industries.

Rijit stated that competition policy basically covers two elements, one of which involves putting in place a set of policies that promotes competition in local and international markets.

This particular set of policies, he said, enables a relaxed industrial policy, liberalised trade policy, easy exit and entry conditions, reduced controls and greater reliance on market forces.

The second element which he considered most critical includes legislations, judicial decisions and regulations that specifically aim at preventing anti-competitive business practices, avoiding concentration and abuse of market power.

He said “although competition law is part of competition policy, the majority of countries started with the adoption of competition laws without any competition policy in place.”

Rijit said the most common immediate objective of competition policy has been to protect the process of competition and free market access.

This, he said, is achievable through prevention and elimination of monopolies, monopolistic practices and other restrictions for the efficient functioning of markets to attain economic efficiency in production.

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