ISLAMABAD, July 25: The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has imposed a penalty of Rs450 million on GCC Approved Medical Centre (GAMC) and GCC Approved Medical Centres Administrative Office (GAMCA) for indulging in collusive activities in violation of Section 4 of the Competition Act 2010.

The penalty includes Rs20 million on each of 20 GAMC and Rs10 million on each of five GAMCA.

A CCP bench comprising of its chairperson Rahat Kaunain Hassan and members Abdul Ghaffar and Dr Joseph Wilson passed and issued the order in respect of the proceedings initiated against GAMCAs, which are the group of medical centres providing fitness certificates to people going to Gulf countries at work visa.

The proceedings were initiated on the complaint of Pakistan Overseas Employment Promoters Association (POEPA) wherein it was alleged that the respondents are fixing a uniform fee, dividing the market and equally allocating the intended emigrants/ expatriate workers (GCC Customers) among themselves for the pre-departure medical tests, which is mandatory in nature to proceed to GCC States Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia.

The respondents were also alleged to have been exploiting the customers by restricting their choice and imposing unfair terms and conditions which amounts to violate Section 3 & 4 of the Act.

The bench in its order rejected the grounds taken by the respondents that fixing a uniform fee, dividing the market and equally allocating the intended emigrants/ expatriate workers (GCC Customers) among themselves for the pre-departure medical tests is an ‘Act of State’ and the respondents are compelled to the implement such system, therefore, under the doctrine of ‘foreign sovereign compulsion’ the provisions of the Act are not applicable to them.

The bench observed that these doctrines are not available or recognised as defence for contravention of Section 4 provisions, at best the commission can look and examine these grounds in its discretionary exercise while considering grant of exemption.

The defence, on the basis of these doctrines after being examined on merit, was held to be untenable.

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