President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday gave assent to a law aimed at promoting competition among companies and ensuring protection for consumers and small businesses, an official has said.
The Director General, Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Babatunde Irukera, said in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES that the new law will be cited as the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2019.
Mr Irukera said the president’s assent to the law is coming 20 years after the federal government made attempts to get it promulgated.
“This is one of the most prolific legislations for promoting consumer confidence, choices, and fair pricing among businesses,” he said.
“By this law, the federal government has cemented the most needed efficient and transparent framework for meaningful and credible disposition of public enterprises, expanding economic growth and assuring shared prosperity.
“By the same token, the law deepens the framework for encouraging and supporting small and medium scale businesses, by ensuring a level playing field that eliminates entry barriers and operational obstacles that prevent sustainability and profitability,” Mr Irukera explained.
He said, as a leading market in Africa, a vibrant competition framework is a key tool in reducing poverty, increasing value for money and ensuring consumer satisfaction.
The new law, the DG said, is a demonstration of the government’s will to protect consumers and citizens, while continuing to promote Nigeria as a leading destination for investment.
“This is an outstanding achievement and a historic milestone in the development of Nigeria and prioritisation of her people both from consumer protection and economic competitiveness standpoints.
“This is one of the most important pieces of legislation to the economy on all sides, both from promoting economy expansion standpoint and for government to fulfill its constitutional role of protecting citizens,” the official said.
He said the absence of the competition and consumer protection law has been the reason many of the country’s enterprises have not been ”very successful”.
With the law, Mr Irukera said, competition will be promoted among companies. Also, it will encourage companies to be innovative to stay ahead in a competitive market, he added.
“The law will encourage foreign direct investment and eliminate monopoly and cartels. It will promote the sustenance and profitability of small and medium scale enterprises, thereby creating jobs and lowering prices.”
On the benefits of the new law, the official said ”small companies ready to do their best to boost the economy will be confident that the government will protect them.”
Besides, he said, the law will make the country’s economy very competitive against other economies.
Apart from the Democratic Republic of Congo, he said Nigeria was one of the 32 countries in the world without a competition law.
With the law, he said big monopolies would not be able to use their market power to constitute entry barriers to smaller companies.
“What is happening now is that the big companies use their financial power to crash the prices of goods and flood the market. With the new law, those kinds of practices will be scrutinised by the competition authority.”
For instance, he said institutions like banks and other big companies that decide to come together to fix bank charges will be stopped.
Under the new law, the CPC will now become the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and there would be a Consumer Competition and Protection Tribunal, a court to be set up to try offenders.
“We at the Consumer Protection Council will engage every tool and provision in this new law, and any other enactment for the protection of consumers to ensure fair treatment and respect for Nigerian consumers,” Mr Irukera said.