Consumers and businesses have been promised more timely decisions from the Financial Services Commission (FSC) and the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) as the two watchdogs reached an information-sharing deal.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) paves the way for a more seamless transfer of information between them, said FTC Chief Executive Officer Sandra Sealy.
The two regulatory agencies started work on the MOU back in June, she said, adding that the decision was taken “due to a recognition of the need to establish closer ties with other agencies in similar accountabilities”.
With the MOU now in place, officials are hoping the time it takes for a decision to be made on several matters will be cut “significantly”.
Sealy told reporters: “We know that sometimes when there are merger cases sometimes they take quite a long time because [of the time spent] getting information so we are hoping that by establishing this agreement with the Financial Services Commission and other stakeholders as we go on, we will be able to make that process more efficient.
“We believe that through this cooperation with the Financial Services Commission, both of us will be able to do our work more efficiently because we have established methods of communication, we have established how we share information.
“We know it is very critical to make informed decisions and we also recognize that it is also important to be timely with these decisions and this memorandum of understanding is to facilitate that.”
Speaking to journalists at the FTC’s Green Hill, St Michael office, Sealy said the consumer protection agency often had to contact the FSC on merger and competition cases.
Among other things, the non-binding MOU makes provision for enforcement cooperation including investigative assistance and coordination in the same or related investigations; sharing of information on matters of mutual interest; more timely communication; inter-agency consultation.
And the FTC has started conversations with other organisations to put similar MOUs in place to make for easier exchange of information, the CEO added.
Sealy said “We have also been having discussions about having cooperation with the Royal Barbados Police Force because as we go more into enforcement and into dealing with some of these merger cases we recognize that we may have to take some of these matters to court so it is important for us to make sure our processes are sound.”
The FTC is also in the process of establishing relations with regional counterparts in Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, to fulfill one of the commission’s strategic goals for this year.
Chief Executive Officer of the FSC, Kester Guy, welcomed the MOU, saying there were several areas for collaboration between the two agencies.
Guy said: “As far as we have activities that affect each other or where there is overlap or where there is reliance on each other for decision making, this memorandum that establishes the working relationship and provisions for sharing information allows us to do that in a very seamless way that would redound to the benefits of good experience for all the stakeholders that we engage with, and we certainly support it.”