By Elias Mhegera – Tanzanians that are involved in the cross-border businesses have been enlightened to reduce obstacles in order to allow the well functioning trade arrangements, together with movements of people and goods.
The call was part of the deliberations during the two days seminar to discuss cross border concerns in Dar es Salaam on August 3rd and 4th.
The seminar was organized by the Policy Research for Development (REPOA), CUTS International, and the Trade Mark East Africa; it as well involved civil servants, and officials that are involved in cross-border transactions in various forms.
Speaking at the occasion Prof. Samuel Wangwe, Executive Director REPOA said that the aim of the meeting was to adapt competition for proper functioning of the market, and for the benefit of all people.
“The fundamental of any competition is to allow proper functioning of competition policy and a law, admittedly Tanzania has delayed to put forth the policies of fair competition because of the nature of its management and adoption of market economy,” commented Wangwe.
Further, he reminded that fair trade competition is a matter of necessity, with an aim of improving the quality of life, and the abidance to the regulations of fair competition. Prof Wangwe dubs as the chairman of the Tanzania Fair Competition Commission.
He counseled that in order to realize mutual benefit, there must be a will of all players. He reminded that the law on competition was established in 1994, but the Commission started its duties in 2009, a span of 15 years apart.
“The main barriers were how to change procedures and transfer powers from the ministers, to the players. The involvement of many boards and ministries also had its share of the delay, so much time was spent on advocacy than walking the talk,” commented the don.
He however, lauded that eventually the tasks took place after institutions to facilitate this goal were established, issues were assessed and the speed of implementation of this project was adjusted accordingly. However, he advised that the key players must be assessed from time to time in order to diagnose the real challenges.
Presenting a paper on the fundamentals of competition policy and laws was Mr. Rijit Sengupta who said that in order to understand the benefit of competition there must be a general understanding of comparative laws and policies.
“Competition is a process of rivalry between competitors in the market, this eventually tends to benefit consumers and even the governments in terms of taxes and added values by the free market,” he commented.
He further revealed that if the government allows for a free and fruitful operation of business and a vibrant private sector it will give itself a relief and deal more with provision of basic services.
However, he warns that competition needs to be nurtured so that it becomes beneficial to the people, but this is an involvement of many people. He reveals that competition is even more beneficial to consumers if it is well articulated.
Listing the benefits he starts with the harmonization of trade relation between producers and consumers. It also increases business predictability, and facilitate for smooth entry of investors as well.
“You should perceive competition positively due to its advantage in job creation, ample supply of scarce goods, and receiving of varying opinions on how to conduct trade for mutual advantage of all involved sectors,” he commented.
A Policy Analyst and Researcher at REPOA, Stephen Mwombela said that trade arrangements could yield more results if all the concerned parties of the East African Community (EAC) find ways of resolving the barriers.
“It is high time that all institutions that are involved like the Tanzania Regulatory Authority (TRA), the Immigration Department, the Fair Competition Commission and all regulatory bodies find a mutual consensus rather than allow the dominance of one particular institution,” he commented.
He noted that one challenge has always been unnecessary intrusions due to justifications of security check, and lack of expertise on how to deal with financial constraints. He challenged that all institutions must conduct capacity building trainings in order to overcome obstacles for well functioning competition.
He also challenged for the establishment of the competition authority t deal with the notable challenges. He also noted that two of the EAC countries notably Burundi and Rwanda still use the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) model while the other three member countries have undergone big modifications.
An economist with CUTS International Mr. Cornelius Dube presenting on Cross-Border Competition Concerns for Eastern Africa said that some practices are exploitative due to excessive pricing and executioner predatory prices.
He suggested for mutual agreement to be conducted whenever discrepancies are noticed. “Partner countries must appreciate that they have different levels of experiences and expertise in many areas as well,” he commented.
He suggested for an invitation of mote players in game like media practitioners in order to increase the level of awareness. He challenged that some Civil Society Organisations could have played this role but lack of well organized plans put them at a disadvantage.
The Director General Fair Competition Commission Dr. Frederick Ringo admits that initially one main challenge was lack of expertise in management issues to the extent that the functions of fair competition were conducted based on who knows who, rather than defined principles and standards.
“Currently we have gone above this stage, stakeholders are involved in all aspects; production, innovation and even relocation of resources, this involvement has determined in bringing fairness in line with the governments social economic issues,” he commented.