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Letter: Insurance shouldn’t be excluded from competition policy

MADAM – I am writing to raise two concerns in response to your September 27 article “State insurer to be exempted from competition watchdog”.

The major concern lies with the prospect of the insurance sector being exempted from the Competition Law. In this regard, I agree with your unnamed source that “If the competition law doesn’t apply to the insurance sector, businesses who are waiting for better and more competitive insurance products are going to be disappointed.” It is my view that all businesses should be subject to the Competition Law, including state-owned enterprises (SOEs). An SOE is a business and insurance is a business. All insurance companies should be obliged to act and compete fairly without exceptions and compromise.

Like similar laws in other jurisdictions, the Competition Law provides for exemptions to be granted. However, an exemption must be necessary for the public interest or for small and medium-sized enterprises, which may be less likely to possess market power and thus may be less able to adversely affect competition. They must be applied for and each application considered on its merits by the Myanmar Competition Commission.

In matters related to Myanmar’s national interest concerns, exemptions from the law may be granted. I believe the proper means to deal with this is through application to the Commission, instead of legislating laws separately.

I also dispute the assertion that the Commission is “stacked” with civil servants, a claim which neither accurate nor fair. As your June 13 article “New Competition Commission already under fire” made clear, five of the Commission members, including the deputy chair, are independent. We were appointed for our legal, professional or business expertise.

In addition, the presence of representatives from the Attorney General’s department and the commerce, industry, home affairs and transport and communication ministries reflects the demands of the enforcement of the Competition Law. The composition takes into account the most relevant sectors of the economy and the skills and expertise necessary for its proper enforcement.

To suggest that the Commission is “stacked” implies that I and my four independent colleagues are lame ducks. I reject this accusation. The Commission is serious about competition policy and we – contrary to what the source suggested – do “understand the importance of fair competition for consumers and investors.”

Source: Myanmar Times

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