The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has praised the federal government’s support in resolving the delayed issue of the three percent fee and charges levied by five regulators as a contribution to the CCP Fund.
The Chairperson of the CCP said that the government’s commitment to the strengthening of institutions hinges on affording institutions administrative and financial autonomy, and that the resolution of long-pending matters will enable the CCP to pursue its legislative mandate more effectively, in addition to paving the way for organizational reforms.
Pakistan needs an economic landscape that will allow consumers to benefit from competition that aims at inter alia reduced prices, improved quality, efficiency, and innovation. Once these funds are received and continue to be contributed, a financially autonomous CCP can facilitate the government’s economic agenda more effectively.
In its meeting on 24 November, the government demonstrated its unequivocal support for the CCP by approving the issuance of a statutory regulatory order (SRO), and prescribing three percent of fee and charges levied by SECP, OGRA, PTA, NEPRA, and PEMRA from the financial year 2009-10 and onwards to meet the charges related to the functioning of the CCP.
The Ministry of Finance subsequently issued the SRO on 27 November for the gazette notification. Necessary action has also been requested including standing instructions to their bankers for the transfer of the prescribed percentage of their total fee and charges collected during each quarter, for credit to the account of the CCP by the tenth of the month following the relevant quarter and before surrendering the surplus to the Federal Consolidated Fund under intimation to the CCP.
The CCP duly acknowledges the support and efforts of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Law in the entire process, and views them as the catalyst in making the CCP a truly independent and robust organization.
It also speaks about the commitment of the government to resolving the decade-old issue of payment of the said funding, thus duly supporting the transformation of the CCP into a sustainable and more effective organization.
On 23 December 2008, the government nominated the five regulatory bodies and fixed the said percent of fee and charges levied by them as the amount to form part of the CCP Fund. Despite numerous correspondences with all those involved, the full support of the Ministry of Finance, the favorable opinions of the Law & Justice Division, the objections of the Auditor General of Pakistan on the chosen regulators for non-payment, and the support of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue on numerous occasions, the commission was not able to tap into this source of envisaged funding.
Since its inception, the CCP has been operating under severe resource constraints with a fixed annual grant. All the penalties that the CCP imposes are deposited in the Federal Consolidated Fund, and so the CCP is also shielded from any conflict of interest, whether perceived or real, as the quantum of penalties the CCP imposes is not to be used for its operational budget.
The CCP is hopeful that the five regulatory bodies will be supportive now and play their due roles in strengthening the competition regime in Pakistan.
This three percent source of funding is appropriate and necessary, given the circumstances of the CCP. A multi-source budget with multi-year funding arrangements that are updated annually will contribute to the independence of the CCP to enable it to plan its work without the uncertainty of the future.