8 Jul 2008

Water-bottling companies move unlawful, says Fiji Commerce Commission

10:23 am on 8 July 2008

Fiji's Commerce Commission has described the decision by water-bottling companies in Fiji to cease production in protest against higher duties on its products as unlawful.

All companies that bottle water in Fiji have decided to stop selling their products, in protest against the interim administration's decision to slap a 20 percent tax on every litre of water they sell.

The Fiji Times quotes Commission chairman Charles Sweeney as saying the decision breaches the Fair Trading Decree, which prohibits any arrangement which substantially lessens competition.

Mr Sweeney says a breach of the Fair Trading Decree would be a "very serious breach of Fiji's competition laws".

But the bottled water industry has rejected any suggestion of collective anti-competitive behaviour.

Industry spokesman Jay Dayal says the Commerce Commission should establish the facts before commenting, speculatively or otherwise, on any entity's commercial conduct.

He has clarified that not all bottling companies have ceased production.

The Ministry of Finance and stakeholders in the bottled water industry are meeting this week to discuss the new tax structure.