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Wednesday, 12.03.2014, 17:39
Competition Council head: penalties for violations of competition regulations will be stepped up in Latvia
Abrama, who took office on June 26, says she will concentrate on cases currently investigated by the Competition Council, and look into the council's past work. The Competition Council will analyze reasons for unwanted or possible deformations of the market in order to prevent them. Communication with companies and society will also be highly important in the Competition Council's further work, writes LETA.
"The Competition Council will definitely be harsh with competition violations, and the penalties will be stepped up – it is important that a violation carries adequate punishment. The penal system in Latvia has not been stringent enough to prevent violations of competition regulations. At the same time, we will do much preventive work educating and informing companies, in order to prevent the development of an environment where such violations are possible," said Abrama.
According to the Competition Council's data, investigation into 60 cases was completed in 2011, and the total amount of penalties that the Competition Council imposed for violations of competition regulations was LVL 6.3 million last year.
The risk of cartels and companies abusing their dominant position on the market still exists in Latvia, said Abrama. At the moment, the Competition Council is investigating 17 cases on suspected cartels and nine cases on companies abusing their dominant position on the market.
"The number of these cases proves that the trends have not changed and are unlikely to change in the future. The Competition Council is working on various methodologies for ascertaining the risk of cartels and abuse of dominant position, because market participants unfortunately are rather passive in informing the council about factors that violate competition on the market," said Abrama.
Furthermore, it is now much harder to ascertain a violation of competition regulations than before. "Five years ago, the Competition Council had to simply take a look at a contract to establish a violation, but now such things can no longer be found in contracts," explains Aboltina. That is why the Competition Council now more often carries out inspections at companies, which is the only way to find evidence, much of which comes from electronic documents, including correspondence by e-mail.
As reported, the government approved Competition Council employee Skaidrite Abrama as the council's new chairwoman on June 12.
The chairperson of the Competition Council is appointed for a five-year period by the government on the economy minister's recommendation.
Abrama has a master's degree in management from the University of Latvia. She has also studied at the Swiss universities "Akad" and "Imaka", the Business Promotion Institute at the Austrian Chamber of Commerce.
Abrama has been working at the Competition Council from 2004 to 2009 as a council member, and a senior economist from 2009 to 2011. Before that, Abrama worked as deputy director at the "Internationaler Bund" Institute of Languages.