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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Consumer Protection Tribunal to be set up by January

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Testifying before lawmakers on Tuesday, Mr Amadou Ceesay, GCCPC chief, informed the lawmakers: “We have to set up a tribunal to administer the Act, and we are targeting January 2015. We have been working very hard with the judiciary to set up the tribunal. We have also set up a Consumer Protection Division and I am happy to report that we have gone far in this regard. We want to train people on consumer protection. We produced a guide on consumer protection. There is a lot of advocacy work to be done and we have been busy on that. I hope come January 2015, the tribunal will be up and running, the directorate will have been established and the commission will be on sound footing.”

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Ceesay said his office was established in 2008 to enforce the Competition Act of 2007. “The Act established a competition regime in The Gambia under which GCCPC can investigate possible anti-competitive behaviour by enterprises. In its investigations, the GCCPC has considerable power to compel enterprises and any other person to furnish information it may require. If the commission finds the conduct of a business to be anti-competitive, it has strong power to intervene and remedy the situation. Where businesses have been found to be deliberately and diligently colluding to fix price of share markets, the commission can impose fines.”

He told lawmakers that the GCCPA Act prohibits the following anti-competitive practice: collusive agreements, abuse of monopoly situation and mergers that substantially lessen competition.

Dilating on the objectives of the commission, Mr Ceesay informed the joint committee: “The commission has a duty to promote competition in the economy. It does this by identifying public restrictions on competition, advising the government about the implication for competition of proposed legislation or regulations and by informing public authorities and the general public about competition issues.” 

On the 2012 recommendations of the joint committee on escalating and high prices of basic food commodities which MPs said “has a serious impact on the lives of average Gambians”, Mr Ceesay remarked: “It could be recalled that GCCPC conducted a market study in 2012 which looked at the competition issues in the rice and sugar markets, respectively. The studies revealed excessive pricing of these two commodities due mainly to their concentrated nature, that is, only in the hands of a few suppliers. Presently, we are part of a team set up by the Ministry of Trade to ensure fair and reasonable pricing of commodities, and that consumers are protected at all times. This august body will soon receive the recommendation of the team.”

The director of finance at the GCCPC, Alagie Jabang, gave the financial statement of the commission, while Abiesseh George of PKF accounting firm, and Pa M Ndow, director of audit both gave their statements on the audited accounts of GCCPC.

Lamin Camara, assistant compliance officer at the Gambia Public Procurement Authority said GCCPC scored 93% compliance rate.

The joint committee members are expected to scrutinise his report before rejecting or adopting it at a later date.


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