The newly-launched Competition Authority has been urged to desist from becoming an academic institution that produces research results and statements but have their presence felt, said Dorcus Magkato Malesu, Minister of Trade and Industry.
“The organisation should have an impact on the ground in order to add economic value to business growth and higher returns for consumers,” said Malesu.
The task of the Authority is to detect and eliminate cartels, control anti-competitive mergers, control abuse by monopolies, as well disseminate information to the business community and consumers through education and advocacy. With the launch of the Authority, it is expected that the Act will now commence in earnest.
“The competition policy is meant to promote unfettered competitiveness and dynamism through all sectors of the economy, prohibit any behavior which lessens competition in the market place and help remove unnecessary barriers to trade and cumbersome regulations,” said Malesu.
In addition, she cautioned government officials and politicians not to get in the way of the newly launched organisation.
“Government should remain committed to ensure that it respects the independence of the Competition Authority and its decisions, which are appealable to the judiciary and not the political leadership,” she said.
She urged government institutions to take the lead in promoting the principles of competition. This means facilitating fair competition and not being seen as frustrating the entry, growth and development of businesses in any sector of the economy.
Malesu urged the newly launched organization to forge linkages and not isolate itself from other statutory bodies. The authority will be working with the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB).
She hailed the business to business dispute resolution system under the ambit of the authority, saying it will enhance the attractiveness of the Botswana economy for FDI.
Malesu further acknowledged that accusations and counter accusations of corruption are unavoidable; nonetheless, she said, the internal institutional checks should be able to deal with any corruptive tendencies well.
“There is much talk about political interference but there should be no business interference through corruption,” she said.
Despite being adopted in 2009, it has taken two years for regulations to be passed in terms of the Act. Botswana joins a number of other jurisdictions in sub-Saharan Africa, including SA, Mauritius, and Namibia, in adopting Competition Legislation.