The length of time it is taking for the Competition Act to come into effect has been criticised amid Tesco’s recent buyout of Shoprite.

Yet, Chief Minister Alfred Cannan says there will still be significant competition in the marketplace - even though Tesco will own ‘well over 50% of the supermarket and retail shopping facilities in the island’.

Douglas North MHK David Ashford posed a question to Mr Cannan during Tuesday’s Tynwald sitting, asking when the Government was first told of the merger and why regulations under part six of the Competition Act 2021 are still not in place.

Last week, Mr Ashford called on the government not to treat regulations ‘like an afterthought’ to ensure officials have their say on similar deals in the future.

Mr Cannan said: ‘The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have been working on the secondary legislation required to enable the act to function since it gained Royal Assent in October 2021.

‘There is significant work associated with developing the legislation, including research and benchmarking across the UK and beyond.

‘Drafts of the necessary secondary legislation are almost ready to go out to consultation for six weeks.

‘It is hoped that the secondary legislation will be ready for presentation to Tynwald in early 2024.

‘The proposed secondary legislation, once approved by Tynwald, would give both the OFT and the Council of Ministers significant powers in relation to mergers, including effectively approving or forbidding them under part six of the 2021 Act.’

He said that under existing legislation, if it was alleged that a business was engaging in an anti-competitive practice like predatory pricing, the OFT would investigate the matter and, if necessary, take action.

Asked if he believed the legislation was being brought-in quickly enough, Mr Cannan said: ‘It’s not ideal that it has taken some considerable time to get these particular additional regulations through. On reflection it is probably something that could have been done sooner.

‘There are opportunities to ensure that monopoly situations, if they are occurring, are controlled in terms of the pricing structures that these companies are looking to employ.’

He said that government were first informed of the Shoprite sale at 10.30am on Monday (October 9), a few hours before the announcement was made.

Mr Cannan said: ‘Tesco is the 30th largest company in the UK, it has significant presence not just in food but it also does white goods and clothes.

‘Careful consideration will have to be made in terms of how those market places are approached.

‘Given our positive start to the working relationship, I think one would need to be clear in terms of their future plans and the impact that may have on our local market place.’

Treasury Minister Alex Allinson said that the move could be seen as a vote of confidence in the Manx economy.