Foreign firms in Pak put expansion plans on hold

November 16th, 2007 - 6:37 pm ICT by admin  

Karachi, Nov 16 (ANI): A number of foreign companies in the regulated sector of Pakistan have put their expansion plans on hold due to the promulgation of the Competition Commission Ordinance 2007.
The representatives of foreign companies, which are working in association with the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI), a body of 171 members headquartered in Karachi, said that the Ordinance was prepared quietly and without consulting the stakeholders, which is creating confusion and increasing risk for businesses.
The fast changing political situation in the country and uncertainty have become a matter of major concern for foreign investors.
We are not against the rule of law and will with work within the legal framework. But the ordinance has a number of flaws, which need to be removed, The News quoted the representatives, as saying.
Foreign stakeholders complained that the provision of holding 40 per cent or more share of a product in the market would be subject to a possible action against the stakeholder by the Competition Commission.
Some of the sectors such as those dealing with smuggled goods, and undocumented and unregulated companies could manipulate figures, for which the regulated companies would be held responsible.
Most of the companies are related to consumer goods.
All the stakeholders should have been given a couple of months to read, understand and point out the flaws in this ordinance and the government should have sought suggestions from all the stakeholders before its promulgation, the foreign stakeholders said, adding, but the government did nothing of the sort and enforced the ordinance on October 2.
Moreover, merger and acquisition deals in other countries are kept confidential till they get matured so that the share prices of these particular companies are not speculated on stock exchanges. But in case of Pakistan, the deal would be made public at the initial stage that would be not fair with businesses, they argued.
None of the members of the commission have significant practical experience or any experience of working in trade or industry, they said.
For instance Khalid Mirza, Chairman of the Competition Commission, has served in the International Finance Commission (IFC), World Bank, and the previous MCA but no commercial entity, they said.
These members will decide the fate of business in Pakistan, determine the competitive environment and the competitive advantage, if any, that Pakistani businesses as a result enjoy in international markets, they said, adding that without sufficient experience of trade and industry, members of the commission are not likely to appreciate the correct relevant market.
Appeals against the decision of the commission are to be filed before its own appellate bench, which is composed of the commissions members. So, further appeal can be filed with the Supreme Court.
The High Courts have been bypassed altogether. Contrary to this under the Monopoly Control Authority, there were three levels of appeal as the high courts had not been bypassed.
In case of mergers, the commission will adopt a two-phase approach which will take at least 120 days to decide. This is a long procedure for an economy targeting to operate 24 hours, seven days a week. (ANI)

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