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THE IMPORTANCE OF COMPETITION DURING ECONOMIC RECESSION


During 2015, the effects of the 2008 financial crisis continued to impact negatively on the economic and social welfare of the CARICOM Member States and their citizens.
Unfortunately, another difficult year is ahead of us with many economic challenges anticipated both within the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and extra-regionally. The global economy is projected to show modest growth when compared to 2015. However, at the regional level the situation remains uncertain with potential downside risks including falling global oil and commodity prices and bouts of financial volatility, which could result in lower than expected economic growth for Member States.
The CARICOM Competition Commission (CCC) is acutely aware that as economic improvement is slow in coming, and as domestic demand within the Member States remains weak, anti-competitive conduct such as collusive agreements and abuse of dominance are likely to abound in 2016. Additionally, unfair trade practices of large companies against small and medium-sized businesses may also harm the economies in the CSME, and ultimately reduce consumer welfare.

The CCC is also mindful that in difficult economic times, Governments sometimes believe that they are protecting consumers by restricting competition in key sectors such as utilities, health, public procurement and energy. This is done by preventing the entry of new players into markets through licensing and regulatory restrictions; regulating prices through price or margin controls; and limiting certain contracts only to local firms e.g. office furniture, and stationery and office supplies, drugs, and road works.
The CCC therefore views 2016 as a pivotal year in the enforcement of competition law, as well as advocacy for consumer protection in the region. This is with the unrelenting view that competition and consumer protection initiatives can help ease the difficulties faced by consumers as a result of anti-competitive conduct and austere Government policies implemented during periods of recession.

For 2016, drawing upon the work program which has already been approved by Member States, the CCC will continue to vigorously protect and maximise consumer welfare in the CARICOM region. Accordingly, the CCC intends to make consumers the focus of its message to Governments and parliamentarians, sector regulators, the business community, and other special interest groups such as the judiciary, media, and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
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In this regard, the CCC will continue to work closely with National Consumer Protection Agencies and Consumer NGOs in CARICOM Member States on initiatives which commenced in 2015 such as:
• The establishment of national and regional consumer complaints databases and their effective uses for consumer protection enforcement;
• Research into priority areas for consumers such as financial services and utility regulation; and
• Consumer education.
With respect to competition policy, the CCC will establish the CARICOM Competition Network (CCN) in collaboration with the CARICOM Secretariat CSME Unit, and national competition authorities (NCAs) in the CSME, in 2016. The CCN will seek to encourage closer collaboration between NCAs on matters such as:
• Harmonization of investigation procedures;
• Administrative and legislative barriers to efficiency in competition investigations;
• Information exchange;
• Development of CSME Product Market Indicators; and
• Competition Training and Education programme.

In conclusion, as the designated regional advocate for competition and consumer protection, the CCC takes this opportunity to encourage Governments and sector regulators to view this period of financial constraints as an opportunity to implement or enforce policies that maximise competition among existing operators; facilitate entry and investment of new entrants into markets; and modernise the legislative and regulatory framework for competition and consumer protection. For its part, the CCC will continue to promote and lay the groundwork for the principles of competition law and policy and the effectiveness of consumer protection enforcement in the region.

Further information about the work of the CCC, can be accessed by contacting admin@ccc.sr with your questions or by utilising the query facility on http://www.caricomcompetitioncommission.com

Belizean students to be taught about their rights and benefits as CARICOM nationals


MINISTRY OF TRADE, INVESTMENT PROMOTION, PRIVATE SECTOR DEVELOPMENT AND CONSUMER PROTECTION

Directorate for Foreign Trade

3rd Floor, Garden City Building, 3894 Mountain View Boulevard,

Water Reservoir Area, Belmopan, Belize C.A.

Tel: (501) 822-3263/2832/2833   Fax: (501) 822-2837

E-mail: foreigntrade@btl.net

Nearly 60 Belizean teachers are now equipped to teach students about their rights and benefits under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy following two two-day intensive Teacher Training Workshops in Stann Creek and Belmopan from January 27 through to January 30.

The Workshops are among a series of public education sessions targeting important stakeholder groups who are being prepared to effectively pass on information on the CARICOM Single Market and its provisions that enable Belizeans to work, travel and do business in 12 other CARICOM Member States

The workshops were coordinated by the Ministry of Trade, Investment, Promotion, Private Sector Development and Consumer Protection in partnership with the CARICOM Secretariat and made possible with funding by the Government of Canada under the CARICOM Trade and Competitiveness Project (CTCP) Component 300.

Teachers from a variety of subject areas attended a two day session at the Pelican Beach Resort in Dangriga, Stann Creek on January 27 and 28. The Teacher Workshop sessions then moved to Belmopan on January 29 and 30 where another 28 teachers from the capital and surrounding districts were engaged in the sessions. All participants will receive a Certificate of Participation.

The Workshops entailed    presentations  on the CARICOM Single Market delivered by Specialist Communications, CARICOM Secretariat, Salas Hamilton and the Senior Technical Officer, CTCP, Ms. Wanya Illes; updates on Belize’s implementation of requirements under the CSME given by Senior Trade Economist in the Ministry of Trade, Investment, Promotion, Private Sector Development and Consumer Protection, Richard Reid;   a special session  on sustaining the teaching of regional integration in CARICOM classrooms by  Deputy Programme Manager, Education, CARICOM Secretariat  Ms. Patricia McPherson.  The Belize CSME focal point also encouraged teachers to integrate CSME content into existing activities leading up to CARICOM week (28th June to July 4th) and CARICOM day.

The Workshops were facilitated by Dr Gordon Harewood, a Curriculum Development Specialist who, using an engaging and participatory approach, led teachers through a process of infusing CSME concepts into lesson plans. This is expected to afford students an opportunity to understand the provisions carved out for them under the Treaty of Chaguaramas, and how to access opportunities throughout the Caribbean and their roles and responsibilities in the Caribbean Community.

The sessions were designed to provide teachers with the knowledge and competencies to facilitate interesting, student-centred activities, and to engage teachers in exploring project-based learning. It is hoped that the workshops will lead to more effective learning and teaching of content and concepts relevant to regional integration and CSME, and help facilitate the development of 21st century skills while developing positive attitudes towards regional integration and CSME.

Other Teacher Training Workshops on the CSME are planned for April in Orange Walk and Belize City, while a Media Training Workshop and CSME Spokespersons Workshop are scheduled for the last week in February in Belize City.

All Workshops are key activities under the the CSME Information Flows Project which is mandated to  set the framework for heightened public education and awareness on the CSME led by the focal point Ministries in six CARICOM Member States. This includes capacity building initiatives, the AccessCSME series, sustainable public education strategies and information channels, and Workshop training of the Media, Teachers and Spokesperson to spread the word among their significant stakeholders and publics.  The project is being implemented in Belize, Jamaica, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Guyana.

 

Contact: Tricia Gideon, CSME Focal Point, Ministry of Trade, Investment, Promotion, Private Sector Development and Consumer Protection

Tel: 501 822 2832

 

CARICOM HEADS OF GOVERNMENTS FORGING AHEAD WITH CSME


According to the Caribbean 360, News Around The Caribbean, “The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has agreed to new measures that will make it easier for citizens of the regional bloc to work and travel among member states.

A communiqué issued at the conclusion of the 33rd regular meeting of the conference of heads of government of CARICOM, which took place in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia, from July 4 to 6 2012, stated that the Caribbean leaders had recommitted to achieving the original objectives of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), including free movement of skilled Community nationals, access to the Region’s resources and creating the environment for competitive production.

Following an assessment of the status of the CSME, the government heads agreed to focus strategically on the expansion of the categories of skilled CARICOM nationals who could then move freely for the purpose of working in other member states. Continue reading “CARICOM HEADS OF GOVERNMENTS FORGING AHEAD WITH CSME”

Over 3 million Euro Earmarked To Push CSME Forward


According to Caribbean 360, “Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states have been allocated €3.45 million to help enhance their capacity to further implement the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is to administer the funds, which have been provided through a contribution agreement with the European Union (EU), according to a media release issued recently by the bank.

The beneficiaries of the funds will be the CARICOM member states which comprise CDB’s borrowing member countries, and Suriname.

The funds will be held in a CSME Standby Facility, which will support CSME implementation at the national level.  Under the terms of this agreement, the EU will disburse the funds to CDB, based on verifiable demand.  It is expected that each CARICOM member state will receive at least one grant under the Facility.

These funds are to be used for customised projects aimed at such things as building the administrative capacity of national administrations/agencies involved in CSME implementation, recruitment of short-term consultants and public education.

The implementation period of the Facility will be for three years, however, an extension is possible once both parties agree, stated the CDB release.

According to the findings of a study commissioned by the CARICOM Heads of Government in 2009, the sustainable implementation and effective operation of the CSME is threatened by inadequate capacity, institutions, administrative practices and procedures, and technical facilities and services in the region, noted the CDB in the release.”

Read more: http://www.caribbean360.com/index.php/news/barbados_news/580732.html?utm_source=Caribbean360+Newsletters&utm_campaign=028eaa0664-5_28_2012&utm_medium=email#ixzz1wIJ70MSL

Source: Caribbean 360, News Around The Caribbean.

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