The Federal Government has launched an investigation into price-fixing involving point of sale (POS) operators, warning that it will sanction those found guilty.
This was disclosed by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) after the Lagos chapter of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria (AMMBAN) declared they will increase charges on services.
POS operators’ spokesperson, Stephen Adeoye, had stated that the proposed hike will enable members to survive the current high cost of living and operating in Nigeria.
Adeoye further defended the decision, stating that it will prevent overcharging by agents and deter fraud. However, the FCCPC frowned against the fixed price, stating that price fixing is illegal in Nigeria and could prevent competition, as well as distort the market.
In a statement on Wednesday, by FCCPC’s executive vice-chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Babatunde Irukera, it was stated that: “The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (2018) (FCCPA) recognises indeed encourages the prerogative of businesses to organise in, and as trade associations for acceptable purposes, such as ensuring and enforcing applicable standards and best practices, as well as a measure of self-regulation within the profession or trade,” the statement reads.
“However, the same FCCPA copiously and extensively limits the scope and extent of such collaboration, particularly to exclude coordination with respect to scope or supply of services and price of services.
“The FCCPA expressly prohibits any price-fixing or agreement among undertakings (whether bilaterally or multilaterally) or by undertakings acting in consensus on the platform, or under the aegis of an association to fix prices, coordinate supply or any other commercially sensitive factors that can limit or substantially prevent competition; or otherwise distort the market.”
FCCPC said stiff penalties await “cartels or any similar coordinated or collusive conduct among competitors, even at association levels,” as stipulated in the FCCPA.
According to the commission, “where there is sufficient evidence that a business has, or is participating in any such prohibited conduct or arrangement either directly, or indirectly,” the law will be enforced.
“To the extent that any combination of undertakings, including AMMBAN indeed met, agreed, or decided to impose uniform or coordinated fees/tariffs for services this announcement should serve to ensure such undertakings cease and desist from that arrangement or similar discussions/conduct,” the statement reads further.
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