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Cyprus

Irregular appointments hamper competition watchdog rulings

The House of Representatives

IRREGULAR appointments to the Competition Protection Commission, as well as understaffing issues, have traditionally been the main source of its inefficiency, the House plenum heard on Friday.

Ethics committee chairman Zacharias Zachariou read out to the body the committee’s 25-page report on the CPC’s operation, which included the finding that the required political will to address issues of unfair competition has never been forthcoming.

According to the report, the committee unanimously found that irregular appointments to the CPC have traditionally hindered its efficient operation, resulting in long delays in investigating complaints and issuing decisions.

Additionally, the Ethics committee said, such problems with unlawful appointments resulted in overturning of a large number of CPC decisions, and the re-launching of investigations from scratch.

Committee members concluded that the procedures of investigation and adjudication should be simplified, without infringing on stakeholders’ or defendants’ right to be heard.

Although the CPC has been in place for several years, the committee found, understaffing issues make it unable to adequately address oligopolies and monopolies observed in Cyprus.

As a result, it urged, the CPC must be relieved of duties relating to opinions on competition issues which lie beyond its remit and take up its staff’s time and energy.

Staffing shortages greatly hinder the commission’s work, particularly with regard to data-collection in investigating cases, the Ethics committee members said, and called on the government to support it adequately by staffing it with adequate specialised and competent personnel.

The MPs also found that the legally-prescribed procedures governing the CPC’s operation are cumbersome and result in long delays in issuing rulings.

Additionally, the CPC appears to be struggling to collect the fines it imposes, partly because of irregularities in appointments and partly because the commission has an inadequate debt-collection mechanism.

The committee noted that the CPC must become more accessible, employing plain language suitable for both businessmen and the public at large, either on its website or in informative print material.

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