Kiran Meetarbhan, Executive Director, Competition Commission of Mauritius (CCM), spoke to AfricaMoney on how the agency strives to sensitize a cross section of audiences ranging from well-established businesses to university students on the benefits of a competitive environment. Our legal expert emphasized that competition awareness will help tomorrow’s decision makers to intuitively pick up on competition issues as they come across them, whether at their workplace, in the course of running their own businesses or as consumers.
- As an Executive Director of the Competition Commission of Mauritius (CCM), how do you promote and advertise the provisions of the Competition Act and the activities of the Commission?
The Competition Act 2007 (the Act) mandates and empowers the Executive Director of the CCM to promote and advertise the provisions of the Act as well as the activities of the Commission.
Given that competition law is relatively new in Mauritius, the CCM has invested significantly in competition advocacy in order to reinforce the status, value and the benefits of a competitive environment. Most importantly, the CCM reckons the importance of advocacy as the beneficial link that bridges the gap between our authority and the citizens, businesses and policy makers.
Ever since its inception in 2009, the Competition Commission has maximized efforts in tailoring its advocacy campaigns to different audiences, from well-established businesses to small and medium enterprises to regulatory bodies, legal professionals such as judges and lawyers, and even University students.
The CCM also uses mass media campaigns, such as regular interventions on the radio and broadcasting of competition-related television clips to sensitize the public of the benefits of competition. The CCM also believes in maintaining an open-door policy towards members of the public. When filing the complaints from the public, our officers will also explain to them the different provisions of the Competition Act. In fact, we take this opportunity to encourage the general public to come forward and denounce anti-competitive actions by enterprises while at the same time, explaining the protection afforded to informants.
The CCM is in the process of revamping its website with the aim of rendering our website more user-friendly and thus, more accessible to members of the public who will be in a better position to follow the evolution of our investigations and decisions taken by the Commissioners.
- Can you tell us more about the workshops that CCM organizes?
The CCM organises annual workshops for the business community in the presence of renowned competition practitioners and competition scholars in order to advocate on key developments in competition law. During our workshops, we have focused on a diverse array of competition issues such as the benefits of leniency programmes, the need for preemptive action on the part of enterprises through competition compliance programmes. We have equally advocated the benefits of seeking the Commission’s guidance prior to the implementation of a merger in spite of having a voluntary merger notification framework. In November 2011 for instance, the CCM issued an Ex-Post Evaluation Report of its first investigation into the FMCGs sector (INV 001) which was released during its 2011 annual Competition Workshop that crowned its second year of existence. Organized in collaboration with the Bar Council of Mauritius and the CFA Society Mauritius, the workshop provided the opportunity to raise awareness on the benefits of our intervention.
On at least three occasions, workshops were organized by the CCM specifically for Judges of the Supreme Court of Mauritius. One of them was lead by Sir Christopher Bellamy, who is a Queen’s Counsel and was the First President of the EU Competition Appeals Tribunal. Professor Frederic Jenny, Judge at the Supreme Court of France (Cour de Cassation), Chairman of the OECD Competition Law and Policy Committee and Mr William Kovacic, former US FTC Commissioner, and Chairman of the International Competition Network, as well as Professor Eleanox Fox, an eminent scholar in competition law, was equally invited by the CCM to conduct specialized training for our Judiciary.
- In February, the CCM launched a national contest for students on the theme “The benefits competition brings to the Economy.” How has this competition helped to raise awareness and generate greater understanding of competition laws in Mauritius?
The school contest organised by the CCM targets secondary level students studying for Cambridge ‘A levels’ and undergraduate students in Mauritius. The objectives of this sensitization project are, first, to raise awareness of Competition law in Mauritius amongst students. Secondly, to generate greater understanding of competition law in Mauritius; and finally, to inform students of the benefit of the CCM’s enforcement of competition law.
Recognizing that the students of today will rise to be leaders of tomorrow, the CCM, through the contest, is aiming to breed the spirit of competition in the younger generations; thus, laying the foundation for new impetus to our competition culture. The CCM strongly believes that competition awareness will help tomorrow’s decision makers to intuitively pick up on competition issues as they come across them, whether at their workplace, in the course of running their own businesses or as consumers.
Similarly, the CCM believes that a thorough understanding of competition law and economics cannot be limited to textbooks and until and unless this knowledge is translated and used in practical cases, a mastery of the subject matter will not be achieved. The purpose of this contest is also to allow our students to apply their academic knowledge of competition law and economics to build a case on the benefits that competition brings to a country.
The number of applications received amounted to 65 and this speaks volumes of the strong interest and enthusiasm of our students towards competition related issues. The CCM can thus rightly say that the efforts invested towards creating a learned generation in competition matters will surely yield the desired results.