Tuesday 23 May 2017

IMF reform will be good for consumers -- Competition Authority

economy

Emmet Oliver

The Competition Authority has said IMF-led reforms of the Irish economy, expected to come in during 2012, will "yield positive results for consumers".

The so-called troika (the IMF, the EU and the ECB) will be pushing a series of reforms of Ireland's 'sheltered' professions during 2012 and the Competition Authority will be the body charged with implementing much of this change.

The new Competition Authority chairwoman Isolde Goggin said the IMF reforms included a lot of what the authority had been calling for over the years and now it would be implemented.

The authority's new strategy statement has been published, and apart from a merger with the National Consumer Agency, the IMF-led reform agenda emerges as its main focus.

"The arrival of the IMF/EU/ECB -- or troika -- and the subsequent conditions attached to Ireland's bailout has resulted in a number of commitments being made by the Irish Government relating to competition," the statement reads. "These are mainly reforms to the sheltered sectors in the economy and a significant number of them reflect recommendations made by the Authority in various reports.

"They should yield positive results for consumers.

"We look forward to working with the Government and the troika to help achieve greater competition in more sectors of the economy.''

The legal profession, the medical profession and pharmacies are the main sectors facing an overhaul.

The recession has complicated the role of the authority as the government has rolled back competition rules in some areas, including in the banking area.

This trend is commented upon in the strategy statement by Ms Goggin.

"The crisis in our banking system has resulted in state aid to banks and the creation of a two-pillar banking system.

"In this regard, financial stability has been prioritised over competition policy," it states.

"We will continue to assist the Department of Finance and the EU Commission in formulating measures aimed at ensuring and safeguarding competition in the banking sector in Ireland."

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