The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) Thursday said it is monitoring the ongoing sugar crisis in the country. If any indications of anti-competitive activities are found, CCP will take appropriate enforcement and policy actions, the statement by CCP added.
It is important to highlight that CCP carried out raids on the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) in 2021 and imposed substantial penalties of Rs. 44 billion on PSMA and its member sugar mills for cartelization.
However, CCP’s decision was appealed against in the High Courts of Sindh and Punjab, and in the Competition Appellate Tribunal (CAT) and the recovery of penalties has been stayed. The Appellate Tribunal has been dysfunctional since 14th July 2023 due to the expiry of the term of its Chairman whilst cases of sugar mills and similar important cases are pending. It is important to note that CAT has been dysfunctional for 7.5 years since 2010 leading to a huge backlog of cases. The sooner the Government appoints its Chairman, the quicker the Appellate Tribunal can finalize the appeals.
CCP has taken proactive measures against cartelization in the sugar sector, demonstrating its commitment to ensuring fair competition. Whilst CCP acknowledges the due legal processes associated with judicial review, expediting the resolution of cartel cases is crucial for delivering effective relief to consumers. Protracted delays in resolving cartel cases will negatively impact both consumers and the overall economy.
It is important to realize that cartelization, market abuse, and abuse of dominance prevent new entrants in the industry and discourage foreign investment. The lack of competition results in higher prices for consumers. CCP said that it is fully cognizant and vigilant in safeguarding consumers and promoting fair competition.