The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has announced resumption of the inquiry into the unusual price hike of edible oil and ghee after the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) suspended the decision of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to halt the initial inquiry.
According to the CCP, the Supreme Court suspended the decision of the IHC on 22 November, 2021 and has allowed the CCP to complete the inquiry.
A statement issued by the CCP in this regard reports that on 30 July 2020, the Commission noting the extraordinary increase in the prices of vegetable oil and ghee, launched an inquiry under Section 37(1) of the Competition Act of 2010 to detect violations of Sections 3 and 4 of the Act.
The rise in cooking oil and ghee prices was unusual because the price of palm oil, a major raw material in the production of these products, declined internationally during January-May 2020.
The CCP team had commenced the inquiry by requesting information and related data from the industry. In November 2020, the Commission issued an order to provide information under Section 36 of the Competition Act after non-cooperation of some companies in providing the requested data.
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One company, Dalda, obtained a restraining order from the IHC against the provision of information under Section 36 and subsequently the court in its order dated 14 September 2021, ruled in favor of the petitioner. The CCP immediately filed an appeal against the order and the case was set to be heard on 22 November, 2021.
The statement further said that the Supreme Court allowed the CCP to appeal in order to consider various important legal issues which had arisen in connection with the erroneous decision.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court suspended the proceedings of the judgment of the IHC dated 14 September 2021, till the final decision of the commission’s appeal. Accordingly, the CCP will resume its inquiry into the ghee and cooking oil prices.
According to the statement, on July 8, 2021, the CCP conducted search and subsequent inspection of the Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi offices of the Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association and seized important documents and computer data.
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