10 May 2014

What is PSDI doing in Competition policy in Papua New Guinea?

In Papua New Guinea (PNG), the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) Act 2002 provides for the establishment of a statutory body (the ICCC) to promote competition and the protection of consumer interests. A commissioner and two associate commissioners administer the ICCC, which comprises three divisions:

  • a competitive market and fair trade division,
  • a price monitoring and industry regulation division, and
  • a consumer protection division.

A staff of economists and lawyers undertake its statutory functions. The ICCC operates under difficult circumstances. As the ICCC is still working to build a public profile, complaints from the public remain limited, making information gathering a difficult exercise. Requests for information are routinely ignored and there are extremely lengthy delays in investigations. Further, businesses are either unaware of their obligations or choose to ignore them.
For example, mergers are not reported to the ICCC. In addition, requests for administrative review are frequently sought to stymie ICCC decisions.
Prosecuting such cases requires considerable economic and legal skill and sophistication. However, such skills and experience are, at present, critically short in PNG. This makes implementing something as complicated as the ICCC Act very difficult. To build capacity, PSDI is providing assistance to strengthen the capacity of the ICCC in PNG to increase its ability to investigate inquiries into competition cases.