On 31 August 2023, the Parliament of Uganda reconsidered and passed the Competition Act 2023.
The Act, first passed in May of this year, was returned to parliament by President Museveni for reconsideration of the Act's administrative mechanism. The government had recommended that the Act be administered by a technical committee under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives. However, Uganda's Parliament rejected this recommendation and instead provided for an independent Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
In returning the Bill, President Museveni queried the creation of a commission saying that the creation of new statutory authorities was contrary to the government's current rationalisation policy.
In reconsidering the Bill, the Parliamentary Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry made a strong case for an independent competition commission. The committee argued that the competition law applied to all persons and sectors of the economy including government. A conflict of interest would therefore only arise if the government was to administer a law that it was itself subject to. Public confidence in the law would also be boosted by an independent commission. The committee also pointed out that an independent commission was best practice in the neighbouring countries of Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia.
During the parliamentary debate, the committee admitted that it was improper for it to have introduced a commission and created a charge on the consolidated fund. The Honourable Minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, representing the government, acknowledged the merits of an independent commission and pledged to move a later amendment to the Competition Act in order to provide for it.
The Bill was therefore passed with the administrative mechanism reverting to the ministry, in the hope that there will be a quick amendment to the law which will allow for the creation of an independent competition authority.
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