Competition Order to be enforced from next January

Azlan Othman

The Competition Commission of Brunei Darussalam (CCBD) will enforce the first key prohibition of the Competition Order, the anti-competitive agreements also known as cartels, on January 1, 2020.

Anti-competitive agreements are agreements made between two or more businesses involving price-fixing, market-sharing, supply control or bid-rigging.

These agreements will be treated as per se illegal, due to their detrimental effects when businesses act together, leaving consumers with less or no choice to choose from in the market.

The enforcement of the Competition Order aimed to foster healthy competition in the economic landscape of Brunei, consistent with the long-term economic goal of achieving a dynamic and sustainable economy, as outlined in Brunei Vision 2035. Developing a competitive market is one of the key building blocks to create an ecosystem that encourages business opportunities, leading to consumer benefits and economic growth.

The CCBD, through its Executive Secretariat, the Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs in the Department of Economic Planning and Development at the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE), has been active in its preparation work towards the enforcement of the Order, including extensive advocacy work and developing relevant regulations and guidelines related to the first key prohibition to be enforced.

In its effort to raise awareness and nurture a competition-aware culture, more than 30 advocacy sessions have been conducted so far in reaching out to various stakeholders, including government agencies and public procurement vendors, to discuss effective procurement procedures and measures to deter bid-rigging.

In addition, business dialogues have also been held with professional bodies and trade associations, to deliberate on conducts which may or may not fall within the scope of the Competition Order.

To support the advocacy effort, the Executive Secretariat has prepared numerous advocacy materials in plain language to help key stakeholders understand the prohibitions. They are available in various formats and in different themes, such as leaflets on Frequently Asked Questions about the Competition Order and on Fighting Bid-Rigging; posters on Dos and Don’ts for Associations; banners on Cartel Prohibitions; and handbooks on Business Guidelines.

To date, three guidelines – Guidelines on Anti-Competitive Agreements, Guidelines on Complaint Procedures and Guidelines on Leniency – have been finalised to provide details on how the CCBD will enforce and administer the relevant provisions under the Competition Order.

The Competition Commission underscores that the key principle in competition law compliance is essentially for business entities to act independently and free from collusion. Businesses are to compete to win their consumers by offering their best, in terms of goods, services and prices.

The CCBD can be reached through its Executive Secretariat at 2233344 ext 230/341/343, or by email [email protected]

The CCBD can also be reached at the following address: The Executive Secretariat to the Competition Commission Brunei Darussalam, Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs, Department of Economic Planning and Development Level 3, West Wing, Block 2A, Jalan Ong Sum Ping, Bandar Seri Begawan, BA 1311.

More information on the Competition Order can be found at www.depd.gov.bn/cad.