In a bid to check-mate anti-trade practices in the Nigerian economy, President Goodluck Jonathan Wednesday presented two bills to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at its weekly meeting.
The bills are the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Bill 2014 and the Nigeria Postal Commission Bill 2014.
Information Minister, Labaran Maku, disclosed this when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the FEC meeting.
According to him, the bills were imperative as it would act as catalyst to the transformation achievements recorded in the last 10 years.
Maku noted that the bills would prevent anti-trade and monopolistic practices in Nigerian economy.
Therefore, the minister disclosed that a committee headed by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, with relevant ministers had been set up to further look at the bills before they are sent to the National Assembly for consideration.
“The Nigerian economy has been undergoing fundamental reforms for the past 10 years. These reforms have been aimed at achieving a transition from a state-dominated economy, where all the key sector of the economy are dominated by government parastatals to transit into a market-driven economy that opens all sector of economy to private sector competition.
“Now, in the course of these reforms, many government agencies and companies have been privatised in the last ten years or have been opened up for competition. The purpose of the reform is to ensure that where government has constituted a clog in the wheel of progress, particularly in key sectors, we opened them up to ensure increased private sector investments.
“In the course of these reforms, it has become very clear that unless we undertake serious policy legal framework to ensure competition in the economy, what will happen is that the previous monopoly exercised by government companies or parastatals in the key sectors of the economy will simply be repeated by private sector monopoly as people who buy these companies may block further development of the sector unless you have in place a legal framework that regulates competition in the economy,” Maku added.
While noting that the Nigerian economy at present has no specific agency that deals with the issues of abuse of trade practices, anti-trust and monopolies, the minister stressed that such agency must be in place in every open economy if competition was to thrive towards developing the economy.
According to the minister, “Wherever you do not have legal framework to regulate the economy, to prevent anti-trust, to prevent abuse of trade practices, what happens is that one or two companies could quickly take over and monopolise sectors of the economy and prevent other people from coming in.
“And that kind of thing reduces the capacity of the economy to prosper. In addition to this, without legal framework to achieve competition and enforce good trade practices, consumers are doomed. People will engage in restrictive trade practices or dumping, for example, to prevent other players from selling in the economy.â€