BUSINESS leaders in Bulawayo have pressed the Competition and Tariff Commission (CTC) to decentralise its operations by opening local offices to effectively assist companies.
Contributing during a public workshop organised by the commission yesterday, business representatives in the city said they were facing numerous tariff and competition-related challenges that could be adequately addressed if CTC was accessible at local level.
Since its establishment 21-years ago, as a statutory body to implement and enforce Zimbabwe’s completion policy and law, as well as to execute the country’s trade tariffs policy, the commission only operates from the capital.
Participants said they were not amused by the requirement to travel to Harare to seek essential business administrative services, saying the practise was not only inconvenient but costly.
“Your offices are only in Harare, so how does one access your products? Businesses all over Zimbabwe need your services and being in Harare only doesn’t serve that intended purpose,” said one participant.
An official from a refrigeration air conditioning company weighed in saying it was critical for CTC to urgently open an office in Bulawayo to meaningfully impact on industry transformation.
The official said the closure of industries in the city in recent years was partly a result of unfair business and tariff practices, which CTC should address to foster re-industrialisation.
Others concurred. “It’s not fair for CTC to continue to operate from one corner of the country 38 years after independence. You should have offices in all provinces and support businesses across board.”
Unless the commission spreads its wings and works closely with businesses at local level, it will remain a liability to the economy, said the participants.
The commission is mandated to regulate competition in all sectors of the Zimbabwean economy, and gives advice on trade tariffs matters. Participants also urged the commission to investigate the beef industry where they claimed cartels were manipulating the market.
They further pointed to the need to regulate wholesale and retail competition and cried foul over unfair competition with cheap imports. Some claimed that Harare-based firms were fraudulently getting tenders ahead of local firms.
The CTC senior leadership led by chairman Engineer Anthony Mutemi and director Ms Ellen Ruparanganda, acknowledged the concerns and pledged to act on them.
“We appreciate the frank and brutal feedback, both good and bad. I can give commitment that the board of the commission will look into that,” said Eng Mutemi.
The CTC, however, highlighted that in the past years its operations were crippled by finance constraints, which limited its capacity.
During the engagements businesses were taken through various presentation sessions to appreciate the structure of the commission and the legal framework that informs its operations.
There was lively dialogue on various subject areas covering merger regulations, tariff adjustments, restrictive business practices and trade remedies among others.
SOURCE: HERALD NEWSPAPER 29 JUNE 2018