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The Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Division, responsible for arbitrating , imposing administrative and civil sanctions and protecting citizens from illegal trade practices, was officially inaugurated on Thursday October 10, 2013.
The Authority investigates and delivers judgment on violations prohibited under the Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Proclamation 685/2010 and provisions stated in other laws, which have relevance to the case, or regulations or public notices issued to implement this Proclamation and where the acts are committed to take correctional or other appropriate administrative or civil measures.
It also commissions any relevant person to submit information and documents that are necessary to conduct its arbitrative duties. The Authority summons witnesses to appear and testify before the adjudicative tribunal. It can take affidavits or verifications and make examinations accordingly.
Furthermore, it can execute civil or administrative decisions it passes and order police or any other appropriate organ to carry out its instructions.
According to the Proclamation 685/2010, the Authority may take administrative and civil measures it finds appropriate against any person who violates the provision of the Proclamation, regulations or public notices issued for its implementation. The administrative and civil measures include ordering the discontinuation or injunction of the act pronounced inappropriate, ordering the payment of compensation to the person affected by the act, including taking any other appropriate measure that enables it to reinstate a victim’s or victims’ competitive position. It can also suspend or cancel business licenses, order payments of compensation to consumers for damages they have sustained and order the seizure and/or selling of goods.
Trade practice in Ethiopia has a long history, said Merkebu Zeleke, Director of the Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Authority. However, it hasn’t developed due to several reasons, including economic policies of successive governments, lack of the governments’ regulatory powers and a rent-seeking mentality among actors, he said.
The Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Authority was formed to put in place appropriate practices based on the free market economic policy of the country, according to the Director.
The Authority is also meant to protect the business community from anti-competitive and unfair market practices and also consumers from misleading claims, to establish a system that is conducive for the promotion of a competitive market, to prevent the proliferation of goods and services that endanger the health and well-being of consumers following the expansion of commercial activities, to ensure the safety and suitability of goods or merchandises to human health in a sustainable manner, and to create an environment whereby consumers receive goods and services equivalent to the price they pay.
Merkebu said that the start of adjudication would play a vital role in the move to realize the objectives of the Authority.
Kebede Chane, the newly-appointed Minister of Trade, officially inaugurated the division on Thursday, October 10.