A specialised national committee must be formed to draft rules of the Competition Act, which are highly technical in terms of understanding the markets, players and operations in various sectors, speakers at a dialogue suggested.
The dialogue on Competition Policy in Bangladesh, organised by Unnayan Shamannay, observed that due to absence of rules, the Bangladesh Competition Commission (BCC) could not perform up to the expected level for ensuring inclusive growth of the country through protecting consumers.
Former governor of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) Dr Atiur Rahman chaired the dialogue, attended by the BCC Chairman Mohammad Mofizul Islam as the chief guest.
Among others, economist Enamul Haque, the BCC director Mohammad Khair Abu Naser, retired additional secretary Monoj Kumar Roy, trade policy expert Monsur Ahmed, Assistant Professor Selina Siddique and Afsara Hossain of the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) spoke on the occasion.
The Policy Research Institute (PRI) Research Director Dr M Abdur Razzak, and the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) Senior Research Fellow Dr Nazneen Ahmed moderated the dialogue.
The BCC chairman said despite manpower shortage the commission is working, and still on track.
But drafting rules is very technical, and it needs time and support of experts and stakeholders. Many developed countries have taken time to make rules of such act comprehensible.
The BCC has been working for three years only. But it has carried out different works, including a market survey on rice and onion, a year before the current situation has arisen, he added.
Dr Atiur, also Chairman of Unnayan Samonnoy, said time has come to make the commission functional from the context of sustainability.
Citing the BB's example in promoting competition in financial sector, he said it ensured an enabling environment where the innovators were incentivised, partnerships were leveraged and consumer welfare was prioritised above all.
He stressed on mapping gaps, assisting challenges, learning by doing and sensitising all concerned in implementing a comprehensive competition policy.
Harnessing digitalisation is a must to ensure efficiency through providing related market data, he opined.
Dr Nazneen, however, referred to wrong conception on the commission, and said not all issues including price hike of onion are under (the purview of) the BCC, as markets of these commodities are operated by multi players.
She said the commission will work only when market is being controlled through disrupting competition.
She emphasised working on developing data on markets, which can help understand price situation in different situations.
The BCC director underlined the need for dedicated manpower for the commission.
He also said expertise of the BCC has been drained out due to hiring people on deputation. The commission has already made some judgement despite absence of rules through practicing existing legal instruments.
The BCC is now working on second stage to get recognition at international level, he added.
Enamul Haque unlined the need for coordination among the regulators, citing example that the National Board of Revenue (NBR) and the BB often play an integrated role in controlling prices in any market situation.
Other speakers also highlighted the issues like resource concentration, market failure, recruitment rule, and capacity building programme at different stages including judiciary system.
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