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Commerce Commission To Undertake Market Studies Next Year

The Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) will be going into the New Year with a renewed fo­cus and aim to better serve all Fijians and promote healthy com­petition in
16 Dec 2018 13:57
Commerce Commission To Undertake Market Studies Next Year
Front left: Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission chief executive officer Joel Abraham with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at the launch of FCCC’s new branding at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva on March 26, 2018. Photo: Simione Haravanua

The Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) will be going into the New Year with a renewed fo­cus and aim to better serve all Fijians and promote healthy com­petition in the marketplace.

With the five-year Strategic Plan in place, the FCCC is well on track to action the four goals outlined.

FCCC chief executive officer Joel Abraham said: “In order to work in collaboration with trad­ers, businesses and stakeholders, the FCCC shall continue to pro­mote voluntary compliance to its FCCC Act 2010.

“Voluntary compliance shall en­sure that traders and service pro­viders minimise chances of litiga­tion upon failure to comply with the provisions under the Act.

“In 2019, the FCCC shall be un­dertaking market studies in some key areas such as stationery and spare parts to ascertain whether price regulation would be needed in these areas going forward.”

Self-Regulating Guideline

Particular attention shall also be given to the construction sector to look into formation of a Self-Reg­ulating Guideline (SRG).

Mr Abraham said: “This is ex­pected to ease issues arising from the consumers and businesses as far as the construction industry is concerned.

“Another significant activity lined up for 2019 is the implemen­tation of the E-Portal Pricing Sys­tem.

“This system shall allow stake­holders to make their pricing submissions to the FCCC via on­line. “FCCC has successfully com­pleted the pilot run for the first phase and is schedule to roll-out on January 1, 2019.”

Second phases

The second phase is expected to commence in mid-2019.

Awareness sessions, workshops, training and marketing shall be facilitated at increased levels to ensure Fijians are well aware of the roles and functions of the FCCC.

Over the years the Fijian Compe­tition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) has grown in confidence and capability which paves the path for achievement of its set targets.

The FCCC has achieved signifi­cant milestones in the year 2018 and has plans for a more effective 2019.

From launching its first ever strategic document to getting rec­ognition under the Fiji Business Excellence Awards, it has been a fruitful year for FCCC.

Key highlights of the year include:

1.Strategic Plan Launch

“For the first time ever, the FCCC has a Strategic document in place which entails key objectives and goals for the period 2018-2023.

“The Strategic Plan was launched on March 26, 2018.

Being Fiji’s national regulatory and competition agency, our pur­pose is to achieve the best possible outcomes in competitive and reg­ulated markets for the long-term benefits of all Fijians.

Our Strategic Plan incorporates significant features of the Nation­al Development Plan (NDP) (2017 – 2021 and 2017 – 2036) to enable inclusive socio-economic develop­ment.

“We are working in congruence to actively contribute towards the realisation of the development goals, conclusive of the progress of the private sector, civil society, community groups, the govern­ment and all Fijians.”

The FCCC’s strategic goals are as follows:

Strategic Goal 1

Markets for goods and services in Fiji are competitive

Strategic Goal 2

Consumers in Fiji are offered goods and services that are safe and are provided with adequate and accurate information about goods and services

Strategic Goal 3

Regulation, including price con­trol, is applied where competition is not effective, and efficient out­comes can be achieved without imposing excessive administra­tive or compliance costs.

Strategic Goal 4

FCCC is regarded as an inde­pendent and expert body by the public, the Government and busi­nesses.

The FCCC has begun actioning the strategic goals outlined.

2.Homes CARE and Farms CARE Investigations

In June 2018 the FCCC together with the Consumer Council of Fiji (CCOF) undertook joint in­vestigation into the Homes CARE and Farms CARE programme fol­lowing the manner in which some businesses responded to the gov­ernment initiative.

It was bought to the FCCC’s and CCOF’s attention that some trad­ers were taking advantage of the programme by hiking prices of items to be sold under the initia­tive.

Whilst some were found to be ac­cepting payments for goods and informing consumers that deliv­ery would be done at a later date.

The investigations were initi­ated to ensure that Government initiatives and assistance target­ed towards the vulnerable victims of natural disasters are not taken advantage of by unscrupulous traders and businesses.

Following the investigations, a total of 11 traders were charged by the FCCC for contravening pro­visions of the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission Act 2010 (FCCC Act 2010).

The traders were charged for ‘unconscionable conduct’, ‘failure to mark price of items’, ‘sale of Price Controlled Item above the maximum retail price set by the FCCC’, ‘failure to furnish infor­mation’ and, ‘accepting payment and failing to supply’.

Till date one trader has been fined $10,000 whilst 10 cases are remaining before the courts.

3.Increased Awareness and Marketing

Increased awareness sessions have been conducted throughout the year.

From January till date more than 200 trader and community sessions have been facilitated by FCCC in its effort to create aware­ness amongst traders and con­sumers alike on the core roles and functions of the FCCC.

“We have engaged in main­stream media marketing through­out the year.

“As well in order to inform Fi­jians that we are here to ensure consumer protection and drive healthy competition in the mar­ketplace.”

  1. Increased Trader Inspections Throughout the year the FCCC has conducted innumerable trader inspections in order to ensure traders are in compliance with the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission Act 2010 (FCCC Act 2010).

“Particular attention was also given to outer islands where con­sumers are usually unable to raise their concerns in a timely manner.

“Throughout the year a total of 4,898 trader inspections were con­ducted of which 550 were done in the rural maritime zones.

“Trader inspections are an effec­tive way to monitor the traders and help ensure consumers are getting value for money.”

5.Fiji Business Excellence Awards (FBEA)

In realising the Strategic Goals which encompasses being recog­nised as an esteemed organisation saw the FCCC register its interest in being part of the Fiji Business Excellence Award (FBEA) process and adoption of the FBEA Frame­work.

“The FCCC participated in the processes outlined and was rec­ognised with the ‘Achievement Award’ during the FBEA Awards night on November 3, 2018.

“The FCCC is elated to be rec­ognised for the initial efforts put forth towards achieving business excellence and towards stream­lining and aligning its systems and processes to meet the FBEA Framework criteria.

“It is a significant milestone for the FCCC’s quest for quality and organisational performance excellence and works as a build­ing block in our journey towards achievement of our vision that is to create a dynamic and competi­tive market in Fiji.

“As part of attaining excellence in service delivery, FCCC strive to continuously learn and improve its systems and process through innovation, and best practices to transfer knowledge effectively, and efficiently, throughout the organisation to deliver our corpo­rate goals and objectives.”

6.Corporate Social Responsibility Engaging in Corporate Social Re­sponsibility (CSR) activities is an integral part of the FCCC as it is a means of giving back to the com­munity.

During the year, the FCCC under­took six CSR activities;

n Blood Drive – saving a life

n Chinese New Year Celebra­tions – multiculturalism

n Sports World Fun Run – pro­moting healthy living

n Post Cyclone (Josie and Keni) Relief Assistance in Ba and Raki­raki

n Visit to the Labasa School for Special Education and

n Climbathon – Mt. Korobaba – organised by the Fiji Women’s Lawyers Association in support of Cancer patients

The FCCC family is steadfast to partake in activities for a noble cause and to ensure that the bond­ing within the team also takes place.

  1. Bus Fare Review

The independent Bus Fare Re­view Committee, headed by the Mr Abraham was a crucial area of study in 2018.

The Committee was established by the Government to engage in public consultation throughout the country for the purpose of reviewing the current bus fare structure.

“The basis of the review is to as­certain the current market condi­tions, level of competition in the market, the operating costs and revenue incurred by the opera­tors, relevant Government poli­cies.

“This includes best practices on improvements to the bus industry.

“There are a number of vari­ables to be considered when look­ing at the aspect of bus fares and the Committee is taking a holistic approach in considering all varia­bles including frequency of trips, aging fleets, routes serviced etc.

“The Committee is undertaking a comprehensive report since the bus industry is a critical industry in the Fijian economy.”

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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