Committee requests NTDC approve Competition Policy

Some of the participants at last week’s NTDC meeting at The Melanesian Hotel

By Jonas Cullwick

The Competition Framework Committee (CFC), tasked with coordinating work on the Competition Policy and Law for Vanuatu, has requested that the National Trade Development Committee (NTDC) to approve the draft policy and law for the Council of Ministers to sign-off.

This development was revealed at last week’s meeting of the NTDC at The Melanesian Hotel in Port Vila.

In a presentation on the implementation of the decisions of the meetings of the NTDC, it was reported that at its meeting in March, 2016, the NTD Committee endorsed the Terms of Reference for the CFC, whilst also noting the importance of this work.

Earlier, in February 2016 a Government-only Discussion Paper: Competition Policy for Vanuatu from the Council of Ministers was provided to the Ministry of Tourism, Trade, Cooperatives and ni-Vanuatu Business (MTTCNVB). And at the NTDC March 2016 meeting the policy was very nearly complete, with the exception of the Action Plan, the NTDC meeting last week heard.

The policy has had the following consultations: in June 2016 consultants conducted a workshop on competition policy in Port Vila for public-sector representatives; in July 2016, following feedback from the Government of Vanuatu (GoV) a Public Issues Paper: Competition Policy and Law for Vanuatu was delivered to MTTCNVB and circulated for public comment; in October 2016 an inter-Departmental Advisory Group approved a draft National Competition Policy prepared by the Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI) for public consultation; and on 12 October 2016, consultants conducted a workshop on the draft Competition Policy in Port Vila to which representatives of the business community and public sector were invited.

“The Competition Framework Committee has signed off on an Action Plan, which therefore completes the policy.

“This Action Plan is high-level,” the NTDC meeting heard last week.

There are 13 different work streams which the policy has identified – including banking and industry.

For each of these work streams there will be extensive consultations with the relevant stakeholders, before the specific recommendations are developed, the meeting was informed.

The NTDC has previously indicated its support for the competition policy, and its importance, through decisions at the last two NTDC meetings.

The draft policy aims to chart a course for better consumer protection, liberalization of markets, and safeguards for the competitive process in Vanuatu.

Consultation on it follows an earlier round of consultation held over August and September on the Public Issues Paper on Competition Policy and Law for Vanuatu, which PSDI also prepared.

The Government of Vanuatu requested support from PSDI in developing a competition and consumer policy in 2015. Following consultation on the draft policy, it is expected that a National Competition Policy will be submitted to the Council of Ministers for consideration and endorsement later this year.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

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