Shining light on competition law

Rizal Faisal

Last February, an expert from the Indonesian Competition Commission (ICC) was placed in the Competition Commission of Brunei Darussalam (CCBD) with the aim of developing investigative methodologies for the enforcement of competition laws in Brunei Darussalam.

The CCBD was established on August 1, 2017 as an independent body mandated to promote business competition in the local economic landscape through the enforcement of the Competition Order 2015.

Meanwhile, the ICC was established in 2000 with an aim of enforcing competition laws in Indonesia in order to maintain public interests and create a conducive business environment through the creation of fair market competition.

Supported by the Japan-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Integration Fund Phase II, Senior Legal Advisor at the ICC Mohammad Reza spent two weeks assisting the Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs (CCAD), which is the Executive Secretariat to the CCBD.

The CCAD, under the Department of Economic Planning and Statistics at the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) is responsible for the Commission’s functions, such as advocacy, handling complaints, reviewing markets and conducting investigations.

Senior Legal Advisor at the Indonesian Competition Commission Mohammad Reza heads a workshop on competition law. PHOTO: CCBD

During the placement, Mohammad utilised his six years of experience as Head of ICC Investigation Bureau to aid in the drafting of a manual to be used as reference in investigative works.

He also facilitated three CCBD workshops on “Spot and Stop Bid Rigging”, attended by over 60 officials from the Ministry of Health (MoH), Ministry of Development (MoD) and Ministry of Education (MoE), during which he provided insights into efficient and competitive procurement processes and procedures by drawing examples from his wealth of experience at the ICC.

According to the competition agency, the workshops were “vital in providing an avenue to educate public procurement officials on preventing and detecting bid rigging conducts. It serves as a starting point of a continuous cooperation between the CCBD and public procurement officials in upholding the value-for-money principle in public tendering in order to safeguard public expenditure”.

It added, “The exchange of experiences between participants and experts, as well as the case studies featured, provided a more realistic and practical understanding of the subject matter.”

According to a survey of the attendees, over 50 per cent of participants who had no prior knowledge of the Competition Order now had a grasp of the fundamentals. Some 96 per cent believed that the workshops provided information that was valuable for their agencies, with the majority intending to share the new knowledge with their colleagues and apply it in practice to deter bid rigging conducts.

In late February, Mohammad also participated in a dialogue session, “The Role of Competition Order in Economic Growth”, at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD).

According to the CCAD, the Indonesian expert’s placement at the CCBD was valuable and timely as the agency, established in August 2017, was still in its infancy.

The CCAD team received guidance in the implementation of competition laws, in particular case handling and investigation procedures, which led to the establishment of an investigation manual.

The placement also marked a significant milestone in the institutional ties between the CCBD and its Indonesian counterpart through the exchange of experiences.