The executive secretary of the Gambia Competition Commission (GCC), has lamented the insufficient funding given to his institution by the government for the year 2011.
Mr. Amadou Ceesay said the budget submitted by the Commission to The Gambia government to enable it operate efficiently and effectively in the year 2011 was D25 million. “But only a paltry D7.9 million was given,” he lamented.
“This amount was only able to cover the Commission’s administrative expenses while the Commission had to seek financial and material support from international organizations, which were disposed to supporting newly-established, fledgling and under-funded institutions like ours (the GCC) to realize our planned activities,” he revealed.
However, he acknowledged the GCC has received financial support from various institutions like the European Union through its TradeCom project, the Small States Network for Enterprise Development (SSNED), the African Competition Forum (ACF), and International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
Mr. Ceesay was presenting the 2011 financial report of the GCC to the joint session of the Public Accounts and Public Enterprises Committees (PAC/PEC) of the National Assembly on October 3, 2012.
The PAC/PEC adopted the reports of the GCC and commended Commission for its “stable annual activity and audited financial reports.” They noted that the reports are “binding and brilliant.”
The primary responsibility of the GCC is to ensure that anti-competitive practices in the Gambia economy do not exist or are minimized. This, it does through the investigation of possible anti-competitive behaviour by enterprises.
The GCC Act of 2007 empowers the Commission, which was setup in 2009, to compel persons and business enterprises to furnish necessary information it may require, and to intervene and remedy anti-competitive practices where necessary.
The Act prohibits the following anti-competitive practices: collusive agreements including bid rigging, price fixing, market sharing, abuse of monopoly situation, and mergers which substantially lessen competition etc.
Mr. Amadou Ceesay said: “Where businesses have been found to be deliberately and negligently colluding to fix or share markets, the Commission can impose fines.
Earlier on, GCC board chairperson, Alhagie T.S.A. Njie, in his activity report noted the first two years of existence of the GCC - 2009 and 2010, were devoted mainly to institution building, processes involving accession and suitable accommodation for the staff and envisage activities that would be taking place.
He noted they have managed to register significant developments during this period. “I am certain that members (of the National Assembly) are also fully aware that the public is beginning to appreciate the benefits that can be derived from effective competition and law enforcement,” he claimed.
“Gambia is growing forward and the citizens are getting poorer and poorer,” argues Hon. Alhagie Sillah, National Assembly Member for Banjul North. “I think the GCC should sit and see how best they can deal with foreign investors for the interest of the citizens.”
He claimed that investors coming into the country to invest are taking away the whole money back to their various countries.
Hon. Bafaye Saidykhan, National Assembly Member for Jarra East agreed. He urges the GCC and the Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA) to work together to make sure local and international investors register with the GCC and follow the rules and regulations.
Hon. Pa Malick Ceesay, member for Lower Solumn also agreed. He even suggested for GCC and GPPA to create a level marketplace where local and international businesses can engage in healthy competition.
“If the market playing field is not level, it will be difficult for others especially our local investors to compete. Our local investors should be given priority to encourage them to compete with foreign investors in the country,” he said.
In 2011, the GCC board charged the Secretariat to undertake several activities as a way of promoting and maintaining competition in The Gambia, curbing practices that have appreciably adverse effects on competition, and creating a level playing field within which business can thrive in a liberal and competitive market.
The board also tasked the secretariat to elaborate a three-year strategic plan 2012-2014; to raise the visibility of the Commission and make the public more aware of its existence and functions; to pursue strategies and explore opportunities that would enhance the capacity of staff to carry out the Commission’s mandate with utmost efficiency and effectiveness; and to build the institution’s financial resource-base to enable it carry out its functions expeditiously and effectively.