Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Office of Competition rules nearly ready

"Office of Competition rules nearly ready"
Published in BusinessWorld Online, 04 July 2011
Hit the stands on 05 July 2011
(Original article available online here)

"THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT expects to soon begin tackling competition issues with guidelines implementing the Palace-ordered mandate likely out next week, a Cabinet official yesterday said.
Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima said the rules that will govern the planned Office for Competition under her department are still being finalized.

“We are still discussing the guidelines. We hope to release it by next week,” Ms. de Lima said.
Among the issues the competition office will study is Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.’s (PLDT) planned purchase of rival Digital Telecommunications Philippines, Inc. (Digitel).

“[T]here are [alleged] anti-trust issues in the deal,” Ms. de Lima said.

Executive Order 45, signed by President Benigno S.C. Aquino III on June 9, designated the Justice department as the country’s Competition Authority. It was tasked to investigate violations of competition laws and prosecute violators; “supervise competition in markets” by enforcing such laws; as well as prepare, publish and disseminate studies and reports on competition to inform and guide industry and consumers. It will target monopolies, cartels and other “combinations in restraint of trade”.

The order also formed an Office for Competition under the Justice secretary’s office to carry out the Competition Authority’s functions.

Ms. de Lima said the guidelines, which are being deliberated by an internal panel composed of herself, Justice undersecretaries and assistant secretaries, among others, will adhere to the provisions of Mr. Aquino’s directive.

“We also had to keep in mind that for this year, the budget [for the competition office] will come from the DoJ (Department of Justice) budget and it will only be next year that a full allocation will be made for the office,” she added.

Ms. de Lima has said that the competition office , likely to be staffed by current state lawyers, would also engage the services of technical consultants and advisers from the private sector."

Previous related BusinessWorld post here.

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