The Federal Government of Nigeria is fine tunning two bills that encourage healthy competition and also provide level playing ground in the various sectors of the economy.
The two reform bills which were presented by President Goodluck Jonathan to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) today are the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection bill 2014 and the Nigeria Postal Commission bill 2014.
According to the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, who briefed State House correspondents at the end of the meeting which lasted about an hour, said that the bills are necessary to support transformation achievements recorded in the Nigerian economy in the past ten years.
Maku disclosed that a committee headed by Vice President Namadi Sambo with relevant ministers has been set up to further look at the bills before final copies are sent to the National Assembly for consideration.
According to him, “The Nigerian economy has been undergoing fundamental reforms for the past 10 years. These reforms have been aimed at achieving a transition from a state-dominated economy, where all the key sector of the economy are dominated by government parastatals to transit into a market-driven economy that opens all sector of economy to private sector competition.
“Now in the course of these reforms, a number of government agencies and companies have been privatized in the last ten years or have been opened up for competition. The purpose of the reform is to ensure that where government has constituted a clog in the wheel of progress, particularly in key sectors, we opened them up to ensure increased private sector investments.
“In the course of these reforms, it has become very clear that unless we undertake serious policy legal framework to ensure competition in the economy, what will happen is that the previous monopoly exercised by government companies or parastatals in the key sectors of the economy will simply be repeated by private sector monopoly as people who buy these companies may block further development of the sector unless you have in place a legal framework that regulates competition in the economy.”
Maku stressed that the Nigerian economy presently does not have any specific agency that deals with the issues of abuse of trade practices, anti-trust and monopolies, he said that such agency must be in place in every open economy if competition is to thrive towards developing the economy.
“Wherever you do not have legal framework to regulate the economy, to prevent anti-trust, to prevent abuse of trade practices, what happens is that one or two companies could quickly take over and monopolise sectors of the economy and prevent other people from coming in.
“And that kind of thing reduces the capacity of the economy to prosper. In addition to this, without legal framework to achieve competition and enforce good trade practices, consumers are doomed. People will engage in restrictive trade practices or dumping, for example, to prevent other players from selling in the economy.”
On the Nigeria Postal Commission bill, he also noted that the sector has been dominated by the government over the years and there is now need to reform the postal sector in order to allow the private sector to cone in.