LAHORE - The two-day international conference on 'challenges in implementing competition law in developing countries was commenced under the aegis of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) here on Monday. Mr. Bill Kovacic, Commissioner in the US Federal Trade Commission, Mr. Joseph Angland, partner, antitrust & competition practice New York, Dr. Khalid Ranjha, former senator and law minister, Mian Mohammad Idrees, president FPCCI Punjab chapter, the Chairman CCP Mr. Khalid Mirza, attended the conference besides representatives of the industry associations, leading business groups, and government officials. On this occasion, Chairman CCP Khalid Mirza said that despite the difficulties and challenges in implementing competition law, CCP during its more than two years of existence, has successfully implemented the competition law in its entirety. I am happy to say that we are being acknowledged as a model by other developing countries, he added. The Chairman also briefly outlined the accomplishments of the Commission. Khalid Mirza further said that competition agency should be so structured, empowered, and resourced as to be able to apply the law conscientiously, without fear or favour. If not independent, competition agencies could be potentially subservient to the agenda of the political forces in power. And often, in a developing country context, the agency could be subject to the whims or the commercial interests of an individual or a group of individuals in power. He said that the International Competition Network and the OECD Competition Committee must come out with an unequivocally clear statement in support of operational independence of competition authorities. They must also, if possible, lay down the minimum criteria of what constitutes independence. I am sure developing country agencies would find this most useful in dealings with their governments. Former Federal Law Minister Dr. Khalid Ranjha emphasized the need to implement competition law in letter in spirit and ensure the independence of the Competition Commission of Pakistan, as it is crucial for the economic development. Mr. William Even Kovacic during his presentation addressed important issues concerning the independence of competition agencies. He said that a competition agency is independent when its decisions are insulated from the political control. He discussed in depth the issues that affect the independence of a competition agency, such as the mode of appointment of the board and members of the agency, their tenure periods, the mode of funding to run the agency, and judicial review etc. He suggested the possible ways and means to give independence to the competition agencies. Joseph Angland in his presentation threw light on different influences that affect the independence of competition agencies and suggested remedies to them. These include executive influence, legislative influence, and judicial influence. He said that agencies should justify their Independence by embracing international best practices to the extent reasonable and proper.