Breach of competition in Serbia has been observed in numerous product segments – from cooking oil production, production and sale of electricity to cigarettes, ice cream and others.
This is what the Commission for Protection of Competition says. The Commission has received close to 50 complaints last year, be it from citizens, consumer protection associations or companies who all pointed out to the abuse of competition and abuse in public procurement procedures. Out of the said 50, six are being processed with relevant procedures initiated.
Consumers in Serbia often pay much more money (sometimes even twice more) for the same product, which is oftentimes of lower quality, than the consumers abroad.
This applies to almost all product segments – clothing, footwear, school supplies, technical devices, mobile phones. The Commission for Protection of Competition says a strong import lobby should be blamed for this.
“The practice is that the importer sets the minimum price of the product which eliminates competition from the very start. For instance, a small trader cannot buy a product abroad because if he does, he would have to pay a percentage of the product value to the importer, who is a representative of that particular producer. It is the import lobby that needs to be subjected to strict control, “explains Goran Papović from the National Consumer Organization of Serbia.
The problem also lies in the fact that the Commission has only ten employees who cover the entire territory of Serbia.
Breach of competition is also evident in public procurement procedures.
“The most frequent violation of competition in public procurements happens when bidders agree among themselves who will win the public procurement, or the bidding price that will be stated in the tender documentation. There are also situations when a particular bidder will abstain from a public procurement on purpose, but will submit its bid in another tender.”, says Vladimir Antonijevic from the Commission for the Protection of Competition.
Sometimes the state, as a procuring entity, curbs competition, and sometimes this is even corroborated by inadequate regulation.
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