The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has promised to apply stricter regulations and control on players in the power sector, manufacturing sector, and digital space, in the interest of the consumers in 2023.
This was made known by the Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera while speaking on Arise Exchange, a special business report section of Arise News.
Irukera revealed that FCCPC had towards the end of 2022, embarked on further investigation and scrutiny of the power sector, fast-moving consumer goods, and the activities of digital lenders. An action that unraveled major irregularities that have laid the foundation for the areas the organization would focus on in 2023.
FCCPC to strengthen operations, apply more penalties
The FCCPC boss noted that the agency has started unbundling more of its regulatory tools to create room for penalties in the months ahead.
He said: “Towards the end of last year, FCCPC opened an investigation into the activities of some of the biggest importers of power generators in the country and we made headway in sanitizing the area.”
“In particular, the commission has so far tackled cases of wholesome practices across consumer goods, digital economy and some other sectors.’’
Looking at the agency’s activities last year and also moving forward on what the plans are to strengthen its operations this new year, Irukera said over the period of several months, the commission was gathering intelligence and the intelligence had led FCCPC to the conclusion that there were some irregularities in the activities of the alternative power generating companies and players in the fast-moving consumer goods sector.
He said, “Through investigation and intelligence gathering, FCCPC concluded that there were some anti-competitive practices in some sensitive industries such as power; especially alternative power generating sector. We found out that there are some levels of coordination among big players who play in the 20 to about 200 KVA generators with shady deals.
‘’There were questions about how they were procuring the equipment and what they were importing. There were issues about duty-free weaver or using it to also Import spare parts which are prohibited and whether they were procuring for themselves, essentially engaging illegal transfer pricing,”
Irukera added, “Quite a number of investigations were carried out, especially in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG). One of the first things we did was that early in the year, we started engaging the manufacturers about what we consider misleading. For instance, we discovered that they are reducing volume and content without reducing packaging. Of course, we also carried out the major investigation into the tobacco for penalties.’’
FCCPC investigating digital money lenders
Irukera disclosed that the last quarter of the year also saw the commission beaming its searchlight into the activities of the digital lenders, adding that even though the exercise is still ongoing, a framework has been put in place.
He said, “On the operators of the various digital lending platforms, our stand is that there must be a process and a credible model of operation to enhance sanity.’’
For catch up
Recall that on March 11, 2022, the Federal Government in a raid through its joint committee investigating rights violations and unfair practices shut down some illegal online money-lending banks for not registering with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and engaging in activities against the rights of Nigerian consumers.
These online banks charged interest rates that violate the ethics of how lending is done and was involved in naming and shaming which is a violation of people’s privacy with respect to how these lenders recover loans, among other violations.
The FCCPC recently released a limited interim regulatory and registration framework for digital lending as they worked on a more comprehensive framework to guide the operations of digital lenders in Nigeria. The Commission created a registration form to be completed and submitted by those operating in the digital lending industry.
The 2 major issues the FCCPC sought to address with this framework are unethical interest rates and violation of consumer privacy and other unethical lending practices perpetrated by unchecked digital lenders.
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