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Rachid: Fines for monopolistic practices up to LE 50 mln, six brands of bottled water found noncompliant
Published in Daily News Egypt on 26 - 12 - 2007

CAIRO: Minster of Trade and Industry Rachid Mohamed Rachid made two startling announcements Tuesday, both of which, he said, aim to protect consumer rights and ensure the quality of products in the market.
Firstly, the ministry finalized amendments to the competition law in a bid to prevent monopolistic practices and promote competitiveness. The law stipulates harsher fines and stricter regulations for companies practicing anti-competitive behavior.
The second announcement proved what many people already suspected: A study conducted by the Consumer Protection Authority found 6 out of 21 brands of bottled water noncompliant with set standards.
According to a press release sent to Daily News Egypt from the ministry, Rachid said amendments were approved on the law regulating best business practices. Companies found to apply monopolistic practices will now be fined LE 50 million or 10 percent of the product's total value, up from only LE 10 million.
Moreover, people who take part in such practices can face criminal charges. Under the new law, employees of companies that apply monopolistic practices are encouraged to come forward and provide the government with information without being penalized.
The stricter regulations and higher fines are in line with the ministry's efforts to curb monopolistic practices in order to create a more balanced economy, said the minister.
The government is monitoring the market more closely to better detect agreements or contracts that would lead to anti-competitive market behavior.
The ministry is set to submit the final version of the new law to Cabinet for approval.
In other news, Rachid announced that six brands of bottled water in the local market were found to be noncompliant, according to results of a study conducted by the Consumer Protection Authority on 21 different brands.
Samples from 1.5 liter bottled water found only 13 brands to be pure, complying with set standards: Aqua, Nestle, Aqua Siwa, Mineral, Dasani, Siwa, Aquafina, Baraka, Al-Manar, Delta, Meyah, Aquamina, and Nahel.
Al-Nada and Schweppes did not meet standards.
Despite the good test results of Baraka, Al-Manar, Delta, Meyah, Aquamina and Nahel, the information in the composition tables on these bottle labels were found to be incorrect.
As for the larger bottles, both Nestle and Saway complied with set standards while Nahel, Aquamina, Aquastone and Al-Hayat did not.
According to the ministry's press release, Rachid formed a special committee of members from the police and industrial authorities along with representatives from the Consumer Protection Authority to visit these factories for surprise inspections.
Moreover, the study found that bottled water in the Egyptian market is not mineral, and that the source of all bottled water is natural wells. Companies get their water from wells that are not the right depth nor are they located in the appropriate environment to guarantee the purity of water.
The revealing study was conducted over two months by the Consumer Protection Authority, which was formed only last year with members of NGOs and other civil societies.

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