Country’s competition commission begins to find its footing

The Myanmar Competition Commission will focus on looking into allegations of unfair competition in the market following formal reports of complaints, says U Ko Ko Lay, the secretary of the commission.

Myanmar’s Competition Law was enacted in 2015 and the Myanmar Competition Commission was formed in October 2018, to take responsibility for enforcing the law.

The commission’s role involves recording formal complaints of unfair completion and investigating of those reports.

“Since it is just a little over a year old and we don’t have quite enough staff yet, the commission has been focusing more on the recording of formal complaints of unfair competition in country. We have requested the government for more staff so we can devote more manpower to investigating the complaints received,” U Ko Ko Lay said.

He added that the commission has so far received 10 formal complaints since its founding. Of the 10 cases, four involving the selling of medicines, education, construction, and transportation were investigated and resolved.

Enforcing competition laws is expected to help encourage spending and spur more development in the country’s economy. The aim of the law is create a level playing field for companies and fair competition within industries, thus enabling business to innovate and grow and the commission is expected to support the goals of the law.

Over the course of last year, the commission also met with Grab Taxi Myanmar to discuss its operations in the country, U Ko Ko Lay said.

While no formal complaints were lodged against Grab Taxi in Myanmar, the commission met with the company to discuss its dominance of the ride-hailing market and measures it could take to avoid stifling competition in the market, he added.

“The meeting was just for an informal discussion. We are merely keeping abreast of the changing taxi and ride-hailing market in Myanmar. At present, it appears that customers are not hampered by a lack of choice in terms of taxi services,” said U Thuta Aung, a member of the commission.

The Myanmar Competition Commission and Myanmar Investment Commission are also considering inviting foreign taxi services to explore the domestic market as a means to ensure a monopoly does not emerge, U Thuta Aung added.

“We are warmly welcoming foreign investment because it brings good things to consumers and the market, and helps to avoid unhealthy monopolies,” U Ko Ko Lay said.

At this time, the Myanmar Competition Commission is laying the foundation for enforcing competition laws and increasing awareness for such laws. One of the commissions current focuses is conducting awareness programmes for members of the public and businesses, said U Than Maung, the vice chair of the Myanmar Competition Commission

Among the actions the commission can take against businesses found to be involved in unfair practices include issuing warnings, imposing specified fines, and coordinating with relevant ministries to temporarily or permanently close a business. Punishments can include jail sentences of up to three years, fines of up to K15 million, or both.

Source: Myanmar Times

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