Good Morning Everyone
On behalf of the Trinidad and Tobago Fair Trading Commission I will like to take the opportunity to welcome you to the opening of this Level 2 Workshop on Competition Law and Policy. For those who do not know, my name is Ronald Ramkissoon and I am one of the Commissioners in the Trinidad and Tobago Fair Trading Commission an independent statutory authority established pursuant to the Fair Trading Act. Before I go any further I will like to apologize for the absence of the Chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Fair Trading Commission Retired Justice Amrika Tiwary-Reddy who is unavoidably absent but sends her best wishes to each of you and hopes that this workshop will be a productive learning experience.
The primary function of the Commission is to ensure that the provisions of the Fair Trading Act are not breached. Our objective is to be a watchdog for free and fair competition in the conduct of trade and business and also a facilitator of innovation and development. This is based on our firm belief that competition leads to the optimal allocation of scarce resources, while ensuring the highest quality goods and services are offered for sale to the consumer at the lowest possible prices. In that regard, the Commission continues to provide for the maintenance and encouragement of competition in the conduct of trade, business and in the supply of services. In recognition of this function, we also have a mandate to educate stakeholders about competition law and policy.
Today we have with us representatives from both the public and the private sector in Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas. With respect to Trinidad and Tobago, we have with us representatives from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, TATT, RIC, SEC, Ministry of the Attorney General, the Tobago House of Assembly, the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association and the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries. This Workshop is a continuation of efforts by the Commission to help create a competition culture. We will like to thank the consulting firm Equinoccio, the European Commission and the Ministry of Trade and Industry for arranging this workshop which comes at a particularly crucial time given the importance of competition law and policy to sustainable economic development especially during a time of economic slowdown.
Many of you would have attended the half day Competition workshop that was held in February at the Ministry of Trade and Industry. That previous workshop was basically a primer to this workshop which will be more intensive and focussed on many of the technical issues involving competition law and policy. The deep level of commitment needed to complete this workshop has been recognized by both the Commission and the consultants and as such on the successful completion of the Workshop each participant will receive a Certificate of Attendance with the expectation that many of you will then pursue and complete the more advanced Level 3 Training in the near future.
This workshop is part of the Commission’s overall plan to educate the business and relevant professional communities about competition policy and its enforcement mechanisms, as well as its implications for businesses, its underlying rationale and its potential benefit to the community at large. As is quite evident from workshops such as this, we would much rather assist and educate than prosecute.
We hope that that this workshop will be learning experience for those attending with there being lively discussions with the expectation that there will be continuous future engagement between the Commission and your respective organizations.
In closing I take this opportunity to wish everyone a productive workshop. I now give the floor to Mr Patrick Martens to make some remarks.