The CARICOM Competition Commission, which was established in January this year, could become functional by early next year.
This was noted by Attorney-at-law, Ambassador Stewart Stephenson, one of the seven Commissioners on the CARICOM Competition Commission, in an interview with JIS News.
"As you know, the Commission is not yet off the ground. We had a meeting in February and I'm going to Suriname ( the headquarters) for our next meeting on October 6, to look at staffing matters, such as appointing an Executive Director and other support staff," he pointed out.
The Commission was established by Article 171 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, to support the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). It is specifically responsible for enforcing the Community Rules of Competition. These rules mainly "prohibit agreements, decisions, and concerted parties, whose objective or effect, is to frustrate competition and abuse their dominant position in the market," according to the CARICOM website.
In addition, it cites as the Commission's main functions within the CSME, the application of competition rules, promotion and protection of competition, co-ordination of the implementation of Competition Policy, monitoring of anti-competitive business conduct, promotion of the establishment of national Competition Institutions and harmonisation of Competition Law, as well as advising the Council for Trade and Economic Development on Competition and Consumer Protection policies.
"Given its functions," Ambassador Stephenson said, "one of the main issues the Commission may have to discuss, is what merger reporting procedures Jamaica could adopt."
Discussions on the issue reached a high point last week at the 9th Shirley Playfair Lecture at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.
"The topic will be up for discussion by the CARICOM Competition Commission, because earlier, when the Act (the Competition Law), was being passed in Jamaica, we were looking at this. Eventually we have to address it. We will need to flesh this out," the Ambassador said.