02 February 2004, The Financial Express

GENEVA, FEB 01: The gains of liberalisation can be experienced only if there is a suitable competition regime in place, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) chief of competition and consumer policy division Philippe Brusick has said.

According to Mr. Brusick, competition policy without suitable competition law and a powerful competition authority cannot achieve much.

Speaking at a conference of the international network of civil society organisations on competition (INCSOC), organised by the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) in Geneva, Mr. Brusick said often consumers experienced sharp increase in prices of products after the opening up of sectors.

He said it was not due to the ills of liberalisation but due to the absence of a proper competition regime to check monopolies.

To gain public acceptability, Mr. Brusick advised that countries should adopt a step by step approach for introduction of competition law. Suggesting measures for creating a pro-competition culture, Mr. Brusick said that promotional advertisements in serials and television programmes could be introduced.

Education of consumers as well as judges who would need to handle cases was also very important, he said, adding that a specialised press should be created which could write educated pieces on the topic.

Stressing on the role of civil society, Mr. Brusick said consumers should be helped by non-government organisations in realising that a competition policy would go in their favour.

He added that the goal of UNCTAD was to defend consumer interests by ensuring that applying competition rules results in lower prices of goods and services, better quality and choice and accelerated process of innovation.