Malawi, through the Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) has conducted a Voluntary Peer Review on competition law and policy.
The Voluntary Peer Review Mechanism is a tool used by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to scrutinize and evaluate the competition law and policy of a country, its institutional arrangements and effectiveness in competition law enforcement.
The Voluntary Peer Review, which started in October 2020 and completed in July 2021, sought to identify areas for improvement in the legal and institutional framework thereby contributing to enhancing the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of competition law and policy in Malawi.
The exercise provided an invaluable opportunity to introspect on current processes and legal framework and to learn from the experiences of other competition authorities.
Minister of Trade, Honourable Sosten Gwengwe and CFTC Acting Executive Director, Apoche Itimu appeared before the UNCTAD Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE) on Competition Law and Policy in Geneva on 6th July 2021, to present the Voluntary Peer Review Report.
The following recommendations aimed at enhancing Malawi’s competition legal framework as well as enhancing enforcement activities were made:
- Legal Framework: The peer review report identified huge gaps in the legal framework, i.e. the Competition and Fair Trading Act (CFTA), which require either the repeal of the whole Act or the substantial amendment of existing provisions. Given the volume of issues that require to be addressed, it has been recommended that the CFTA be repealed with a new Act.
- Financial Sustainability: The report noted that the budget of the Commission is not commensurate with the demands placed on it as a market regulator and is not comparable to what is obtainable at other sector regulators. Thus, the report recommended an increase in budgetary allocation to the Commission and further that the Commission should explore other revenue streams.
- Enforcement and Case Adjudication: The report recommended that the Commission should consider introducing an inquisitorial approach to its dispute resolution and adjudication processes.
- Competition law courses: The report observed that there were no competition law and policy courses at the University of Malawi or any other public or privately owned University. It was recommended that there is a need to establish a suitable competition law and policy course at the University of Malawi to ensure the availability of basic competition related training.
In view of the above recommendations, the Commission responded to UNCTAD as follows:
- Legal Framework: The Commission has already started to review the CFTA as well as the Competition and Fair Trading Regulations.
- Financial Sustainability: The Commission experiences budgetary constraints and in that regard, the Commission is exploring other revenue streams.
- Enforcement and Case Adjudication: This recommendation is welcome but requires thorough consultations in order to align the enforcement approach to the legal system in Malawi.
- Competition law courses: This is a welcome proposal. The Commission will take necessary steps to lobby for the inclusion of these courses in both public and private universities.
The Peer Review Report is important in the history of competition law enforcement in Malawi and provides an opportunity for Malawi to create a competitive business environment through an effective and up to date legal framework. The exercise is also in tandem with the Commission’s reforms agenda, which focusses on strengthening the legislative framework as well as achieving financial sustainability.
For more information on this statement, you may contact Innocent Helema on 0880725075. You may also send an email to [email protected].
ACTING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR