Editorials

CAK fines are too lenient

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Summary

  • The offenders were caught treating suppliers unfairly, duping consumers by providing fake details on labels on their products or engaging in anti-competitive behaviour, among other malpractices.
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) says its hands are tied since the size of the fines are prescribed in law and it cannot get out of line.

The competition watchdog has increased its market action, punishing over 10 companies in less than two years for various offences.

This is a welcome development for consumers in a country where some companies have gone rogue due to poor oversight, harmed the consumers and interfered with the proper functioning of the market.

The offenders were caught treating suppliers unfairly, duping consumers by providing fake details on labels on their products or engaging in anti-competitive behaviour, among other malpractices.

But the fines appear to be a slap on the wrist for some companies who would easily pay and feel nothing. For a penalty to have an impact on behaviour, it should be painful to ensure compliance.

The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) says its hands are tied since the size of the fines are prescribed in law and it cannot get out of line.

Perhaps it is time for legislators to relook the law and empower the CAK to have more tools to punish offenders. Fines of Sh500,000 on companies that make billions in profits may not be enough to deter non-compliance.