CCP to resume inquiry in cooking oil, ghee sector

ISLAMABAD: The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) will resume its inquiry into the spike in prices of cooking oil and ghee in 2020 after the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) suspended the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) September 14 order for quashing the investigation.

On July 30, 2020, the CCP, while taking notice of an unexplained increase in the retail prices of vegetable oil and ghee, had initiated an inquiry under Section 37 (1) of the Competition Act, 2010, to ascertain prima facie violations of Section 3 and/or Section 4 of the Act in the edible oil and ghee industry.

The increase in cooking and ghee oil prices was unusual as palm oil prices, the primary raw material in its manufacturing, had witnessed a downward trend internationally during January-May last year.

As per details, the inquiry team had sought information and relevant data from the industry players. However, upon non-cooperation from some companies in sharing the data, the CCP passed a ‘call for information’ order under Section 36 of the Act in November.

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On November 18, One of the companies i.e. Dalda Foods obtained a stay order from the IHC against Section 36 order for providing information to the commission. Later, the Islamabad High Court ruled in favour of the petitioner. Therefore, the commission immediately filed a leave to appeal against the order before the SCP and the case was fixed for hearing on November 22, 2021.

On Tuesday, the SCP granted leave to appeal to the CCP in order to consider various important legal questions which had come up in relation to the impugned judgment. In the meantime, the apex court also suspended the operation of the judgment of the IHC till the final decision of CCP’s appeal. Accordingly, CCP shall resume its inquiry in relation to the cooking oil and ghee industry.

It should be noted that on July 8, 2021, the CCP had carried out four search inspections in the offices of the Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association (PVMA) in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, and impounded several documents and computer-stored information to assist in its investigation.

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