Consumer Protection Agency Eyes Tough Rules For Manufacturing, Power, Digital Firms

Operators in the manufacturing, power, and digital industries may face harsher rules in this year for the benefit of consumers, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has revealed.
According to the Vice Chairman/CEO, FCCPC, Mr Babatunde Irukera, there would also be increased collaboration, particularly with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, and others to strengthen the commission’s regulatory authority.
In a statement,  Irukera said that the FCCPC started a more thorough investigation and examination of the actions of the digital lenders, the fast-moving consumer goods industry, and the electricity sector toward the end of 2022.
He said that this had uncovered major irregularities that laid the foundation for the areas the organisation would focus on this year.
To this end, he said the agency had started to unbundle more of its regulatory tools to create room for penalties in the months ahead.
“Towards the end of last year, FCCPC opened investigations into the activities of some of the biggest importers of power generators in the country and we made headway in sanitizing the area. In particular, the commission has so far tackled cases of wholesome practices across consumer goods, digital economy, and some other sectors”, he said.
The FCCPC vice chairman said that over the period of several months, the commission was gathering intelligence and the intelligence had led to the agency’s conclusion that there were some irregularities in the activities of the alternative power-generating companies and players in the fast-moving consumer goods sector.
He said: “Through investigation and intelligence gathering, FCCPC concluded that there were some anti-competitive practices in some sensitive industries such as power; especially alternative power generating sector. We found out that there is some level of coordination among big players who play in the 20 to about 200KVA generators with shady deals.  There were questions about how they were procuring the equipment and what they were importing. There were issues with duty-free waivers”.
He further said that FCCPC had since begun to analyze the evidence, pointing out that some of the allegations had been confirmed.
“Quite a number of investigations were carried out, especially in the FMCG space. One of the first things we did was that early in the year, we started engaging the manufacturers about what we consider misleading. For instance, we discovered that they were reducing volume and content without reducing packaging. Of course, we also carried out the major investigation in tobacco for penalties”, Irukera said.
He also disclosed that the last quarter of the year also saw the commission beaming its searchlight into the activities of the digital lenders, adding that even though the exercise was still ongoing, a framework had been put in place.
He added: “On the operators of the various digital lending platforms, our stand is that there must be a process and a credible model of operation to enhance sanity”.