Competition commission set to start work next year

KINGSTON, Jamaica, September 26, 2008 – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Competition Commission, established in January, could become functional by early next year.

Speaking to the Jamaica Information Service, attorney-at-law Ambassador Stewart Stephenson, one of the seven selected commissioners, said he would be going to the Commission’s headquarters in Suriname on October 6 to “look at staffing matters, such as appointing an Executive Director and other support staff” in an effort to get the body up and running.

The Commission was established to support the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and is specifically responsible for enforcing the grouping’s Rules of Competition. These rules mainly prohibit agreements, decisions, and concerted parties, whose objective or effect, is to frustrate competition and abuse their dominant position in the market.

The Commission’s main functions within the CSME are the application of competition rules, promotion and protection of competition, coordination of the implementation of Competition Policy, monitoring of anti-competitive business conduct, promotion of the establishment of national Competition Institutions and harmonisation of Competition Law, as well as advising the Council for Trade and Economic Development on Competition and Consumer Protection policies.

“Given its functions, one of the main issues the Commission may have to discuss, is what merger reporting procedures Jamaica could adopt,” Ambassador Stephenson said, referring to a matter that has recently been the subject of debate in that Caribbean island.

“The topic will be up for discussion by the CARICOM Competition Commission, because earlier, when the Act (the Competition Law), was being passed in Jamaica, we were looking at this. Eventually we have to address it. We will need to flesh this out.”