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JIS News

Executive Director of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC), Barbara Lee has said there was need to examine the relationship between competition and regulation in order to balance the benefits of special interest groups with that of the consumers.
Speaking in an interview with JIS News, Mrs. Lee pointed out that while special interest groups such as lawyers, doctors and engineers fell under the jurisdiction of other regulatory bodies, they should also fall under the purview of the FTC.
“As it stands, the Fair Competition Act (FCA) is to be regarded as a law of general application, applying to every sector unless an exemption is given but over the years, some sectors have rejected the jurisdiction of competition and the FTC, using what is referred to as the ‘regulated sector defence’, which suggests that they ought not to be under the jurisdiction of the FTC,” she explained.
“At the FTC, we think that there is always a place for competition unless a clear and proper exemption is considered and is given, not only under the Fair Competition Act, but certainly under the relevant pieces of legislation governing these other bodies,” Mrs. Lee reasoned.
Continuing, the head of the FTC explained that “although these other bodies regulate their specific sectors, they often do so without giving consideration to competition”.
According to Mrs. Lee, some professional associations were engaged in questionable activities, which could prove to be deleterious to the interest of the public. Some of these activities, she said, include “price fixing, market allocation and quality control.”
“It is therefore necessary that the competition agency is able to examine these activities to see whether they are anti-competitive or they are designed to enforce and develop professional standards of competence reasonably necessary for the protection of the public,” Mrs. Lee said.
These, among other issues, she said, would be discussed at the annual Shirley Playfair Lecture Series, “in order to get a view as to how these bodies see themselves and why they might or might not think that they should fall under the jurisdiction of the FTC.”
The Shirley Playfair Lecture will be held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on Wednesday, September 6 at 5:30 p.m. under the theme: ‘Enforcing Competition within Regulated Bodies’. This year’s lecture is the seventh in the series and is staged to honour the life of the FTC’s first Chairman, Shirley Playfair, who passed away in April 2000.
William Kovacic, Commissioner of the United States Federal Trade Commission and former Professor of Government Contracts Law at George Washington University Law School, will deliver the keynote address.
Also participating in this year’s lecture are the Jamaica Bar Association, the Jamaica Veterinary Medical Association, the Medical Association of Jamaica and the Financial Services Commission (FSC).
The FTC was set up in 1993 as the agency of the Ministry of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce responsible for administering the FCA.
The FCA provides for the maintenance and encouragement of competition in the conduct of trade, business and in the supply of services in Jamaica.