Monday, 16 June 2014

Sectoral Regulation and Competition

((First appeared in Consumer News Namibia Magazine October 2013)

The Namibia Competition Commission (NaCC) held a workshop in Windhoek on 24 September 2013 to discuss the regulation of various economic sectors in Namibia. The issue of regulation is important from and political, economic, social and technical point of view. Through the efforts of various ministries and institutions, laws and regulations have been passed and has unintentionally created overlap in some areas while leaving blank areas where regulation might be needed. There is a growing realisation that there is need for a strategy towards better regulatory design and oversight within a framework of coordination. This will lead to better regulatory governance in terms of transparency, consultation and access to information by the public.
The workshop organised by NaCC aimed at deliberating existing issues in regulation with reference to other existing regulatory bodies in the country. These regulatory bodies include:
  • Bank of Namibia
  • Namfisa
  • Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia
  • Electricity Control Board

Each of the invited regulatory bodies gave an in-depth presentation of their own mandate, their aims and objectives and the challenges they face in regulating the sector(s) they operate in. Each entity also gave an overview of how their body interacts with the other regulators. Below are three are of those overview.

Bank of Namibia

The BoN has the power “to authorise persons to conduct business as a banking institution, to control, supervise and regulate banking institutions as to protect the interest of persons making deposits with banking institutions”. During the BoN presentation it was further highlighted that the Bank distinguishes between a banking institution and an authorised payment provider. The second is authorised to be part of the National Payment System, but not authorised to accept deposits.

Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN)

Cran is the body responsible for regulating the communication sector which includes telecommunication services and networks, broadcasting, postal services and the use and allocation of radio spectrum.

In Section 2 of the Communications Act the objectives are spelled out and specifically state in paragraph (k) to ensure competition and consumer protection in the telecommunications sector. CRAN has been very active in encouraging consumers to make use of the complaints procedure as laid out in the regulations to ensure the compliance by service providers on the quality and availability of their services.

Namibian Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa)

Namfisa is responsible for the regulation and supervision of non-banking financial institutions. These include pension funds, medical aid funds, friendly societies, long and short term insurance, investment managers, unit trusts, stock brokers and sponsors, the Stock Exchange and micro-lenders.
This function is commercialised with Namfisa (rather than a government division) to show the governments’ commitment to improve the financial soundness of the non-banking financial industry and to secure protection for all stakeholders in the industry, including consumers.

What was encouraging was the level of trust and interactivity expressed by the various regulators as to their working with other bodies. This was especially noticeable through the various Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) signed that highlighted their desire to protect the rights of consumers across the various sectors.

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