Barbadians are to have a say in the decision on the proposed sale of the state-owned Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL) to regional petroleum products giant the Sol Group.
The regulatory agency, the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) today opened up its decision-making process to all interest groups.
The FTC does not currently regulate the BNTCL. However, according to the Fair Competition Act, any public bid for the control of an entity would be considered a merger and had the potential to lead to a dominant position, and would therefore require application and subsequent investigation by the FTC.
The commission said it was reviewing the proposed merger in order to determine if the transaction would adversely affect competition or be detrimental to consumers or the economy.
“As part of this process, the commission invites all industry participants, representatives of consumer interest groups and other parties that may have an interest in this matter to share their views on the proposed transaction,” the FTC said in a release today.
It said the merger summary document prepared by the two parties, may be accessed from its website from Sunday February 19, or obtained at the Commission’s office in Green Hill, St Michael.
The FTC explained it was required by law to analyze the structure of the markets likely to be affected by the proposed merger, as well as the degree of control exercised by the enterprises concerned, “particularly the economic and financial power of the enterprises, the availability of alternatives to the services or goods provided by the enterprises concerned in the proposed merger”.
The regulatory body must also examine the likely effect of the proposed sale on consumers and the economy; the actual or potential competition from other enterprises and the likelihood of detriment to competition, it advised.
The Barbados National Oil Company Limited (BNOCL) last month confirmed the signing of an agreement for the sale of the BNTCL to the Sol Group.
However, it said the sale would be subjected to a number of conditions, including regulatory approvals.
The proposed merger has been subjected to fierce objection from various sections of society.
The island’s newest political party has already joined forces with the Clement Payne Movement (CPM) in an attempt to stop the transaction.
In a letter to the FTC, the fledgling Barbados Integrity Movement (BIM) “fully endorses the request made for your organization to professionally and objectively investigate the proposed sale of the BNTCL to the Sol Group of Companies”.
BIM’s Political Leader Neil Holder said his party was also joining the CPM in reminding the FTC of its duty to the citizens of Barbados.
“In this regard, we look forward to an investigation diligently carried out without fear and favour,” Holder wrote in his letter dated January 25 to FTC Chief Executive Officer Sandra Sealy.
It was a follow up to a letter written by CPM President David Comissiong, also dated January 25, asking the FTC not to approve the sale.
Comissiong’s letter called on the FTC to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the proposed sale, with a view to exploring all of the possible anti-competition and monopolistic implications.
However, the Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA), has described the pending sale as a positive step for the country, arguing it was a constructive move since Government would be divesting itself of an asset whose operation was in conflict with its climate change obligations.