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Standards and Regulation

Private sector regulation in the Commonwealth

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Following the liberalisation and privatisation that took centre stage in the 1980s through to the 2000s in the Commonwealth, many governments have introduced agencies tasked with regulating services in liberalised and privatised sectors. The agencies, which operate with varying degrees of independence, are generally tasked with protecting customers from monopoly power, promoting competition, promoting social and macroeconomic objectives and regulating the entry of new players to a sector.

Regulatory agencies often have broad responsibilities mandated by an act of parliament or executive order. A telecoms regulator would for example ensure that customers are not charged exorbitant fees to make phone calls; a financial regulator would, amongst other things, ensure that banks remain solvent to safeguard macroeconomic stability; a competition regulator would ensure larger companies are not involved in unfair practices to protect their monopoly thereby making it impossible for other companies to enter or exist in the market; and a transport regulator could ensure that licensed private train operators have the necessary capacity to meet consumer demand. Other private sector regulators include media commissions, financial market securities regulators, utility regulators, and postal services regulators. Regulators that existed prior to privatisation include civil aviation authorities, central banks and company registration authorities.

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