The festive season to commemorate Christmas and the New Year brings a lot of excitement and joy to consumers. Usually, traders announce a range of promotions, including massive discounts on products and services.
Some promotions may be genuine while others are not in good faith. Further, some traders will want to increase sales by engaging in some unfair trading practices. These practices are those which adopt any unfair method or unfair or deceptive practice for the purpose of promoting the sale, use, supply or provision of goods and services. Some promotions are deceptive and harmful to consumers as traders strive to cheat consumers through false and misleading representations.
On 5th December 2017, the Competition and Fair Trading Commission will lead Malawian consumers in commemorating this year’s World Competition Day.
The Day is commemorated annually to rally support and create awareness regarding the role that consumers play in shaping an effective competitive trading regime.
The commemoration of this day dates back to 5th December, 1980 when the United Nations adopted the international standard for competition laws called the Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices.
The main event to commemorate the day will take place in Blantyre under the Theme “Fight Bid Rigging in Public Procurement, Grow the Economy”. Bid rigging involves a group of firms that conspire to raise prices or pre-designate bid winners with the aim of maximising their own profits.
The theme has been purposefully chosen in acknowledgement of the important role that efficient public procurement systems can play in fostering social and economic development. Studies have shown that about 40% of the Government's annual budget is spent on public procurement of goods and services that are used to deliver public services to the citizenry. Studies have further shown that improvement in public procurement systems can help the Malawi Government save about US$24 million per year.
Therefore, the Commission reckons that an agenda to detect, report, mitigate and fight bid rigging would save a lot of money for the country’s development.
In line with provisions of the Competition and Fair Trading Act, the Commission will investigate all complaints of suspected bid rigging in the market and impose appropriate sanctions to offenders.
The Commission is appealing to all Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, private sector, consumers, NGOs, international institutions and the general public to join hands in commemorating the 2017 World Competition Day.
Activities on the Day will include a consumer parade from College of Medicine to Trade Fair Grounds, traditional dances from Chichiri Prison Troupe, poetry and drama. The event will be presided over by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Hon Henry Mussa, MP.
Charlotte Wezi Malonda
The Competition and Fair Trading Commission is a public agency charged with the responsibility to promote competition and fair trading in Malawi through the enforcement of the Competition and Fair Trading Act and the Consumer Protection Act. In its effort to fight fraud and corruption in the country, the Government of Malawi put a requirement that every public institution should establish an Institutional Integrity Committee (IIC) responsible for spearheading the fight against fraud and corruptionby staff, clients and stakeholders when transacting any business. The Commission’s IIC, in collaboration with the Anticorruption Bureau (ACB), has so far facilitated awareness meetings and trainings for the committee members and staff; and has also developed the Fraud and Corruption Prevention Policy.
The Competition and Fair Trading Commission has been accepted as a partner of the International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network (ICPEN) with effect from the 2017/18 financial year.
ICPEN is a membership organization consisting of consumer protection law enforcement authorities from across the world. ICPEN provides a forum for developing and maintaining regular contact between consumer protection agencies and focusing on consumer protection concerns.
The Competition and Fair Trading Commission has noted with great concern that some retail chain stores have a tendency to withhold change from consumers or offer them sweets in lieu of change.
The withheld change is usually in the following denominations - Twenty Malawi Kwacha; Ten Malawi Kwacha; Five Malawi Kwacha and One Malawi Kwacha among others.
The Commission would like to inform all Retailers that the practice of withholding change from consumers or offering them sweets in lieu of change is unfair, unreasonable and unconscionable as it leaves consumers worse off than they were before the transaction. All Retailers have an obligation to have all denominations of Malawi's legal tender to facilitate fair trading conditions for consumers and the market at large.
Section 43(1)(g) of the Competition and Fair Trading Act makes it an offence for any person to engage in unconscionable conduct in carrying out trade in goods and services.
In view of this, the Commission wishes to appeal to all Retailers to cease and desist from unfair trading practices such as withholding change from consumers. Appropriate penalties will be imposed on any Retailer found withholding change from consumers or offering them sweets in lieu of change.
CHARLOTTE WEZI MALONDA (MRS)
INVITATION TO A PUBLIC HEARING
Pursuant to Section 10(2) and Section 11 of the Competition and Fair Trading Act, the Competition and Fair Trading Commission will hold a Public Hearing on Monday 21 August 2017 at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre from 1400hrs.
During the public hearing, the Commission will receive detailed investigation reports containing provisional findings of the cases that the CFTC Secretariat has been investigating. The schedule of cases to be considered at the public hearing is as follows:
NOTICE OF INQUIRY INTO THE PROPOSED ACQUISITION OF OPPORTUNITY INTERNATIONAL BANK OF MALAWI BY FIRST MERCHANT BANK MALAWI PLC
The Competition and Fair Trading Commission has received an application for authorization of the acquisition of Opportunity International Bank of Malawi by First Merchant Bank Malawi plc.
The acquiring firm is First Merchant Bank (FMB) plc of Livingstone Towers, Private Bag 122, Glyn Jones Road, Blantyre; a licensed commercial bank with interests in banking, asset finance, capital market and portfolio management. The target firm is Opportunity International Bank of Malawi (OIBM) of Kamuzu Procession Road, Old Town, Private Bag A71, Lilongwe; a licensed commercial microfinance bank which targets the economically active but marginalized Malawians living in under-served areas including semi-urban and rural areas. The parties have submitted that the proposed transaction will involve FMB acquiring 100% shareholding of OIBM and consequently OIBM shall cease to operate and be merged with FMB.
Notice is hereby given to interested stakeholders and the general public that the Competition and Fair Trading Commission has commenced investigations against twenty one (21) manufacturers of assorted spirits and liquor products on allegations of supplying products which are likely to cause injury to health or do not comply with prescribed consumer safety standards.