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Minister of Finance Colm Imbert

Amid public fears that Government’s intended sell-off and privatisation of all gas stations operated by the National Petroleum Marketing Company (NP) could harm competition and result in the creation of cartels/monopolies, the Trinidad and Tobago Fair Trading Commission, is assuring that under its watch this does not happen.

In a media release yesterday, the competition watchdog said it is aware of the recent public statements expressing anxiety about Government’s intentions.

The TTFTC noted that it is an independent Commission established under the Fair Trading Act 2006 and is tasked with the responsibility of promoting, protecting and maintaining competition in the economy of Trinidad and Tobago.

It said it intends to be proactive in promoting, maintaining and protecting competition in all sectors falling within its jurisdiction, including, if necessary, the retail sector for liquid fuel products.

“The TTFTC is acutely aware of the importance of this sector to not only the lives and livelihoods of members of the public, but also to the national economy,” the Commission said.

During his 2020/2021 budget presentation on October 5, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced that all NP-owned gas stations will be offered up for sale to the private sector, with first preference given to existing dealers and concessionaires.

The TTFTC assured yesterday that it will remain vigilant in monitoring, investigating and identifying any development which may harm competition within T&T, including any potential anti-competitive practices which affect the marketing, distribution and retail sale and supply of diesel and gasoline.

“...for example agreements or concerted practices which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition which includes illegal price fixing, allocation of markets arrangements, refusal to deal and predatory pricing, all of which are prohibited under the Fair Trading Act,” The TTFTC stated.

“Furthermore, the TTFTC will continue to ensure that cartels and/or anti-competitive monopolies do not arise in any industry within our jurisdiction and we stand ready to use the powers granted to us under the Fair Trading Act to investigate, identify and prosecute cartels, abuse of monopoly situations and other anti-competitive market practices,” it added.

The TTFTC said it is committed to ensuring that consumers do not pay higher prices for products and/or services than what can be expected in a competitive market.

It said by applying and enforcing the Fair Trading Act, the TTFTC intends to promote, maintain and protect fair competition.

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