CUTS for synergies on consumer welfare

THE Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) says there is need for consumer- producer synergies for sustainable improvement in consumer welfare in the country. CUTS board member Yusuf Dodia said addressing anticompetitive practices in public procurement processes that impaired the envisaged outcomes of development was one way of promoting good governance of public resources.

Mr Dodia said competition law was a panacea to addressing some of the public procurement challenges and therefore it was important that right resources were leveraged towards implementation of competition law. He said this at a competition and consumer protection commission (CCPC) breakfast meeting to commemorate world competition day in Lusaka.

Mr Dodia said it was saddening to note that the commission was among the least funded agencies in Zambia despite its enormous role in meeting social and economic objectives of government. Mr Dodia said CUTS believed that curtailing these activities would play a key role in creating an enabling environment that guaranteed free contestable markets, transparent procurement processes andpoverty reduction.

Meanwhile the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has said Government procurement authorities should formulate strategies aimed at detecting anti-competitive practices and unusual schemes in the bidding processes. CCPC executive director Chilufya Sampa said in a statement at the weekend that there was need for Government to ensure that it got value for money in the procurement of goods and services.

Mr Sampa made the remarks in observance of the World Competition Day which fell last Friday under the theme “competition issues in public procurement”. He said public procurement was an important aspect of Government expenditure that enabled the Government to purchase goods and services necessary for enhancing service delivery to the general public.

He said common practices that may affect public procurement are bid rigging and market allocation; where enterprises enter into illegal agreements during the pre-contract stage to share price information with a view to circumvent the competitive process.

“These agreements are primarily for collusive purposes and are usually made in secrecy and therefore very difficult to detect,” Mr Sampa said. Mr Sampa said the Commission would next year embark on a sensitization campaign targeted at the business community on anti-competitive practices and the risks of bid rigging in procurement of tenders.

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