Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Anti-trust bills timely

"Anti-trust bills timely"
by Willie S. Baun
Originally published in People's Journal, 01 February 2011, STREETLIGHTS, p. 4

"Multinational companies, particularly those dealing in "fast-moving goods," have enjoyed an array of privileges that otherwise would not be available to them, not even in their own countries.

What makes the FMCGs so profitable in the domestic market, apart from the usual bias for the "imported," is the participation of local distributors.

Numerous small enterprises take on the difficult job of bringing the FMCGs to the buying public, and set their profit margins based on standard retail prices and bulk-discount costs.

In effect the MNC plays commissary that merely takes care of administrative matters but somehow gets the lion's share of the income earned by the distributors.

'In and of itself,' observed a trade official, 'this is already a rather one-sided business deal.' It was added when flagrantly abused by a giant MNC to the graver prejudice of the distributors - the alarm bells should ring against anti-trust.

Two distributors in particular claim to have fallen under the mercy of one such MNC due to its alleged predatory pricing in direct conflict with the corporate codes enforced by the Department of Trade and Industry.

As this case wider currency in business circles, so has "Anti-Trust" attained buzzword standing. Soon enough, I believe, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago would be asked to include FMCG distributors and other such outsource companies in appropriate bills they have proposed.

Legal proceedings between the MNC and the distributors showed the multi-national may have perjured. That, moreover, the MNC's counter-affidavits and joint counter-affidavits versus the predatory pricing charge are inconsistent with one another and with the facts of the matter at bar.

When their attention was reportedly called, the MNC executives seemed unmindful of the resulting perjury charges. 'Their rebuttals were at best amusing, and, at worst dismissive. Yeah, as in 'we didn't know or realize we were lying!''

They also posited that 'privilege' and 'right' were synonymous and took issue with the distributors for the focusing on semantics. Cited in the MNC's defense, the Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary defined 'privilege' as a 'right, immunity, or exemption only by a person beyond the advantages of the most.'

On the other hand, Black's Law Dictionary, the authority on legal terms and legal definitions, indicates 'privilege' as a 'particular and peculiar benefit or advantage enjoyed by a person, company, class, beyond the common advantages of other citizens.'

Common sense, of course, tells us that a right is inherent while a privilege is bestowed. Then again, there's no guarantee that common sense is precisely what it says it is.

In any case, here's Mr. Webster just once more; Anti-trust, adj., Pertaining to the regulation of or opposition to trusts, cartels, pools, monopolies, and other organizations and practices in restraint of trade.

So there, Jose, and trust JPE and Miriam to get it right all the way."

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