Competition and Consumer Protection Policy approved by COM

Vanuatu finally has a Competition and Consumer Protection Policy, recently passed by the Council of Ministers (COM).

This has been announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism, Trade, Commerce and Ni-Vanuatu Business, Jotham Napat.

Mr Napat said the passing of the Competition and Consumer Protection Policy was a very important step in the development of a business environment that is fair and fosters growth.

“For a small and dispersed nation such as Vanuatu, far too often there is a single supplier, or monopoly of services or suppliers.

“This means that prices can be higher and the quality may be lower than if there were multiple goods competing in that market.” The Deputy Prime Minister said the government wants to empower the people of Vanuatu as consumers, by protecting them against harmful business practices and by giving them choices of how to spend their hard-earned Vatu.

“In my previous role as chairman of the negotiating team to end the telecommunications monopoly, I saw first-hand the huge benefits competition can bring to people across the nation, and I will strive to extend this to the entire economy.”

In 2008, when the telecommunications sector was opened to competition, the number of mobile subscriptions per 100 people increased from 16 in 2008 to 57 in 2009. This in turn saw greater investment in telecommunications infrastructure and islands opened for business.

Now that the policy has been approved by COM, the Deputy Prime Minister’s department will establish a cross-government committee to work closely with the private sector and other stakeholders to develop the legislation.

The Vanuatu Government has thanked the Asian Development Bank and the Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI) for being instrumental in the financial assistance of the competition policy. Deputy Prime Minister Napat also thanked them for their ongoing support for this important work.

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