The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has been awarded three-star rating by the London-based Global Competition Review (GCR), in its annual ranking of the World’s top antitrust/competition authorities.
Alongside the three-star rating, GCR has shown CCP’s performance indicator with upwards arrow as, “improving upon its previous accomplishments.” The CCP’s three-star rating brings it at par with the competition authorities of countries including, Switzerland, South Africa, Belgium, Israel, and Romania.
GCR’s Rating Enforcement and star-rating is the result of an independent and objective process scrutinising information and data supplied by the competition authorities, the GCR’s daily reporting, and interviews with lawyers and economists on the quality of an agency’s work in their jurisdiction. Their analysis rates each authority on a scale of one to five stars.
In Pakistan’s country brief in the Rating Enforcement, the GCR noted: “The Competition Commission of Pakistan has made several substantial strides in the past couple of years and re-established itself as one of the region’s key competition enforcers.” The Chairperson, Ms. Rahat Kaunain Hassan who re-joined in July 2020 credits this achievement to CCP’s team. Ms. Hassan stated that international benchmarking will help CCP maintain the right focus and it will contribute to its better performance.
GCR particularly recognised and appreciated CCP’s performance in enforcement, stating that: “With just 45 non-administrative competition staff and a starting budget of approximately €4 million, the CCP does well with its modest resources.” Referring to CCP’s sugar order, it noted that “CCP’s most eye-catching achievement of 2021 was the decision to impose a record fine of about €200.6 million (PKR 44 billion) in August 2021 against several companies for “compulsive or pathological” collusion in the sugar sector.”
Similarly, the dawn raids (search & inspection) according to GCR, proved to be an effective tool for CCP as the dawn raids in poultry, milk, tractor manufacturers, and other sectors resulted in uncovering the evidence of anti-competitive activities in these sectors.
The GCR recognized that CCP made great strides on the legal front and on achieving its financial autonomy. The GCR noted that “Underpinning its successes in 2021 was a major victory before the Lahore High Court in October 2020, which upheld the Competition Act as constitutionally valid. That endorsement was strengthened further in 2021 by the Islamabad and Sindh High Courts.”
Achieving financial autonomy has been termed as a major development in 2021 whereby the government agreed to hand over 3% of the fees and charges levied by a group of five regulatory bodies. “The decision was made after a decade of lobbying by the commission, as well as coordination and communication with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Law and Justice.”
Ms. Hassan added that while CCP remains committed to enforcing competition law and making policy interventions where due, the benefits of competition law enforcement will only be visible to a common man when cartels shall pay the penalty for rigging the economy. Judicial review of cartel cases thus needs to be prioritized.