|Posted on July 9, 2014 at 8:20 AM|
Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency to merge
Fine Gael Kerry Senator and Seanad Chief Whip, Paul Coghlan, today (Tuesday) welcomed new legislation which will merge the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency into a new pro consumer body.
Speaking in the Seanad today Senator Coghlan said that this reform, which formed part of the Programme for Government, is long overdue and should secure necessary efficiencies.
“The proposed Bill seeks to update competition law in a number of different respects and in particular in the important areas of media mergers and the grocery sector.
“A strong and diverse media landscape is a key part of the necessary infrastructure for a functioning democracy. I welcome the guidance and clarity provided by this new legislation and hope that the provisions being introduced will aid in maintaining a diverse and healthy print and electronic media landscape in the future.
“I also welcome the measures being introduced to address competition matters in the grocery sector. This is an area that needs to be monitored closely to ensure that the relationships between retailers and suppliers maintain the competitive dynamic necessary to ensure consumers get value and choice from their shops.
“At present, there is a competitive landscape for shops in Ireland and this is, in part, due to the sensible and reasonable measures taken by the Government on retail planning. We have, through our planning system, ensured that there is balanced retail provision. This means that no one shop or chain dominates, and that large and small stores compete to ensure consumers are well served.
“We often criticise ourselves for failings in key areas. But on retail planning we have largely got matters right. We have not allowed the big box retailers that suck up trade from surrounding towns and centres. Instead we have facilitated, in most cases, a sustainable approach to retail development which allows shops in suitable locations close to people.
“The Minister will need to monitor the adherence to the code for the retail trade. Retailers and suppliers are inventive and I am sure they will look for loopholes in the new compliance requirements. The Minister will need to ensure that the law keeps pace with the regulatory intervention.
“I was a fan of the objectives underpinning the Groceries Order and think that the way in which alcohol has been sold below cost indicates that some of the benefits that were behind that legislation were well placed. It was clearly an unintended consequence of the repeal of the Groceries Order that drink moved to become a major aspect of price promotion between retailers. This aspect needs to be tackled urgently and I hope that the Minister for Health will bring forward proposals in this regard.”