The Minister of Trade and Commerce, Francois Kanimba, yesterday urged MPs to treat, as urgent, a bill on competitiveness and consumer protection, which he said is a key ingredient in market liberalisation.
He made the appeal to members of the senatorial standing committee on economic development and finance.
The committee chairperson, Perrine Mukankusi, had tasked the minister to defend the bill and explain why it was critical for the economy.
“The process of market liberalisation has been going on since 1991. However, the work done wasn’t based on best practices, but in this new bill, we drew best practices from all over the world,” the minister noted.
He pointed out that the bill was part of broader reforms aimed at turning around the economy.
Previous laws gave too much power to the government in matters related to market regulation. In 1991, there was a law regulating the pricing of each and every item in the country, said Kanimba, adding, “this led to unnecessary protectionism system with very high taxes on imported goods”.
The minister pointed out that, as economies progressively move towards liberalisation, certain undesirable business practices can easily emerge, which can impend on development and economic growth.
“We had to introduce the competition and consumer protection legislation to eliminate unfair business practices, such as price fixing, speculative hoarding and collusive tendering,” he added.
Part of the liberalisation process the government opted for is to let prices be determined by the forces of demand and supply, while the government’s role will be to maintain a favourable competitive environment.
Sen. Mike Rugema backed the minister’s request to speed up the process to enact the law.
“This bill is long overdue, we have spent ten years on the liberalisation process and I believe such legislation would create necessary conditions for real competition,” Rugema commented.
The bill contains several provisions that cater for such issues as mergers, acquisitions, counterfeits and other violations of Intellectual Property Rights, and abuse of market dominance.
The draft law also prohibits collusion to fix prices, bidding, market allocation and all factors that would hurt free movement of goods and services and free trade in the region.Follow https://twitter.com/EdwinMusoni