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News : Bahamas Information Services Updates Last Updated: Jul 9, 2018 - 7:13:57 PM

Draft Competition Legislation
Jul 9, 2018 - 5:08:04 PM

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The Ministry of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration today issued the following statement in response to an article captioned “Competition law’s “conflict” on agent, distribution links” appearing in the Tribune Newspaper on the 4th July 2018, attributing certain statements to Mr. Mike Maura, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation.

“Unfortunately, an article captioned “Competition law’s “conflict” on agent, distribution links” appearing in the Tribune Newspaper on the 4th July 2018 contains inaccurate information that should be clarified, including references to stale-dated draft competition legislation dated 1st August 2007, and not the updated draft competition legislation dated April 2018.

The Ministry of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration therefore wishes to confirm the following:

In late 2017, the Ministry engaged the services of a competition lawyer to draft Competition (Antitrust) Legislation for The Bahamas. The Consultant undertook a legal inventory of existing statutes, subsidiary legislation and policies that have an impact on all economic activities in The Bahamas and conducted an economic mapping survey of the economic and dynamics of key sectors in The Bahamas. The results of the legal inventory and economic mapping survey were used to ensure that the draft competition legislation and policy were customized for the Bahamian context; fulfilled The Bahamas’ current obligations for Competition Policy under the CARIFORUM-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which The Bahamas signed in 2008; and policy met World Trade Organization (WTO) accession requirements.

Additionally, the Consultant sought to build on an existing Draft Competition Bill (dated 1st August 2007), and develop scenarios for institutional design of a competition agency taking into account the powers and functions of the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) under the Communications Act, and models existing in other CARICOM jurisdictions.

The Ministry circulated a copy of the Draft Competition Bill prepared by the Consultant, dated April 2018, for their consideration and requesting comments. A copy of the previous draft Competition Bill (dated August 2007) was also circulated to stakeholders for information. The Ministry recently held initial consultations regarding the Draft Competition (Antirust) Legislation (dated April 2018) from Tuesday 26th June to Friday, 29th June 2018, led by the Competition Consultant. Members of the Legal and Business Community were invited to consultations specifically tailored for their sectors on Friday, 29th June 2018.

The Ministry requested comments on the Draft Legislation so that they may be conveyed to the Consultant, and subsequently to the Office of the Attorney General and the Law Reform Commission when preparing an updated draft of the legislation for consideration of the Cabinet of The Bahamas.

Competition law and policy is an essential element of markets working efficiently. It seeks to promote competitiveness and brings important benefits to consumers by:

    encouraging efficiency of firms, enterprise, innovation, and a widening of choice;

    enabling consumers to purchase better quality products and lower prices; and

    creating opportunities for small and medium sized businesses to grow.

These benefits are achieved through the enactment of three main rules, namely:

    a rule prohibiting abusive market conduct by a single dominant player in the market;

    a rule prohibiting anti-competitive agreements which restrict trade in the market; and

    a rule requiring that mergers that can lead to a reduction of competition in the market be subject to review and resolution by the competition authority.

Additional consultations on the Draft Legislation will take place in due course and the public will be informed accordingly. In the interim, members of the public are encouraged to review and submit comments on the Draft Competition Legislation (dated April 2018).

The Draft Competition Legislation (dated April 2018) as well as the previously prepared Draft Legislation (dated 1 August 2007) can be accessed on the Ministry’s website via: www.bahamasministryoffinancialservices.com and on the Ministry’s Trade Information Portal via www.bahamastradeinfo.gov.bs.

Comments will be collated by the Ministry and submitted for the information and consideration of the Office of the Attorney General and the Law Reform Commission. Comments on the Draft Competition Legislation can be forwarded to trade@bahamas.gov.bs, preferably by 3rd August 2018.

The Ministry can be contacted via 328-5071 to 6 or via trade@bahamas.gov.bs for additional information if necessary.”

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