While Guyana has been commended for its support of the CARICOM Competition Commission, a call has been made for governments in the region to refashion the manner in which competition is effected within the regional economy to the benefit of consumers. This was pointed out on Monday morning by Dr Kusha Haraksingh, Chairman of the CARICOM Competition Commission,during his address at the opening of a workshop on competition law policy for parliamentarians at the Parliament Chambers in the city.
The workshop was attended by several government and Opposition Members of Parliament including Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan and Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs , Basil Williams. Speaker of the National Assembly,Dr Barton Scotland,introduced the proceedings of the forum.
Dr Haraksingh told the parliamentarians that there is political independence; however, he said that there is need for competitive independence. He said that the region needs to “refashion the way in which the economy operates” by emphasising the importance of competition as a tool for maximizing consumer welfare.
Locally, Haraksingh said that the Guyana Competitive Commission has been the beneficiary of eight to nine projects,including sensitisation on the drafting of procedure and technical support. At the moment the CARICOM body is collaborating with its local counterpart on conducting a study on the banking sector in Guyana.
To this end, he spoke highly of Guyana’s support to the regional body. “I want to compliment Guyana for meeting its obligations in the budgetary framework “, he said. He added that there are many other Caribbean countries which are delinquent in the discharge of their obligations. “Guyana stands out as beacon in its support of the commission “ , Dr Haraksingh noted.
The experienced legal luminary also called for the development and establishment of the region’s own legal system as regards competition. He explained that the workshop was part of a wider European Development Fund (EDF) project. To answer the question of why the EU is interested in “explaining the virtues and values to people in the Caribbean “, he said that Europe is interested in selling its idea of competition to the region , noting that there is also the American school of thought as regards competition .” Here we need to develop our own jurisprudence to competition “, Dr Haraksingh said.
He said that some concepts of competition from those two areas are not immediately applicable to the Caribbean . As an example , he said that in Europe , one can load a truck in Sicily and drive to Norway , while in CARICOM , the complexity of the geographical locations may see new issues of the market arising .
He said that as MPs, the lawmakers have a major role to play in “how to develop this new jurisprudence of competition law that pays attention to small economies”, as well as to attention to the developing countries and move towards making competition law work in the regional jurisdictions.
“People make agreements of various kinds and they break the competition rule”, he noted. According to Dr Haraksingh,this is done in a naive manner such as when two persons or four families meet at an event such as a wedding or at a funeral and they discuss their businesses and exchange information.
As such those persons may not be aware that they are breaking the law or at length placing the consumer at a disadvantage.