• Law vs foreign monopolies pushed

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    A growing number of lawmakers are pushing for a law that will level the playing field in Filipino industries, particularly those dominated by foreign-controlled monopolies.

    Deputy House Speaker Sergio Apostol filed House Bill 4320 or the Philippine Fair Competition Act of 2014 or Anti-Trust Law, that seeks to impose heavy penalties on unfair trade practices like monopolies, anti-competitive mergers, anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position.

    The bill also creates the Philippine Fair Competition Commission, an independent body that will investigate and prosecute companies, businessmen and other individuals engaged in unfair     trade practices.

    Penalties include a P10 million to P50 million fine per violation for individuals, P250 million to P750 million fine per violation for companies, maximum 10 year prison term for key company officials, and deportation for foreigners after the payment of fines and imprisonment.

    “The increased deviousness and complexity of schemes in perpetuating monopolies in the country by multinational competitors necessitates an equally sophisticated legislation that will effectively address this concern,” Apostol said.

    “Protection against price manipulation is an effective way by which the government can provide our people better access to various goods and commodities in the market.

    By providing an equal playing field in the business sector, consumers will have improved access to affordable quality goods,” he added.

    Earlier, Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Representatives Rufus Rodriguez and Marcelino Teodoro filed separate versions of the Philippine     Fair Competition Act or Anti-Trust Law.

    Senate Bill 1027 remains pending before the Senate trade, commerce and entrepreneurship committee since August 14, 2013, while House Bills 1133, 388 and 453 remain pending before the House trade and industry committee since July 23, 2013.

    The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the country’s largest business organization, earlier urged Congress to fast-track the passage of the Philippine Fair Trade Act.

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