Eleven buffalo and cattle meat vendors in the Gadong wet market were issued warning letters for selling buffalo and cattle meat above the capped prices set by the Seasonal
Maximum Price (SMP) Directive.
During the inspection on May 11 by officers of the Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) and Department of Economic Planning and Statistics (JPES), vendors were also found to have posted their price displays in a manner that did not comply to the Price Display Order. Warning notices were issued to violating vendors and subsequent offences will be met with a compound fine of up to BND500.
Prices were found ranging from BND15 to BND17 per kilogramme, which exceed the capped price of BND13 per kilogramme set under the SMP Directive.
In an attempt to circumvent the directive, vendors were found offering inferior cuts of meat at BND13 per kilo. Price labels were also found incomplete, hung up above eye level in small prints.
Warning letters were issued for not complying with the SMP Directive. In a previous visit to the wet market, vendors were found not displaying labels or displaying price boards which did not correspond to prices quoted to consumers, stating ‘pre-COVID prices’ as an excuse to justify the price change.
As it was their first offence, vendors were issued a warning notice and advised to ensure proper labelling, stating the type and part of meat sold, with the actual price for the day, order to remain ethical and safeguard consumer interests.
Reasons cited by vendors for failing to display their prices included rapidly changing costs, to avoid the ire of customers for having to charge higher prices and to avoid anger from other vendors for charging more competitive prices. The reasons are unacceptable as consumers have the right to basic information for conveniently and quickly comparing items and prices before making a purchase.
The public is encouraged to make use of features related to prices of essential goods in the PenggunaBijak app and the Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) official website, as a reference on prices being offered in the market. Prices of essential goods monitored by JPES are updated weekly, whereas the ‘Price Comparison’ feature provides price information on selected household items, voluntarily submitted by retail stores.
The DCCA reminded vendors on the importance of displaying prices to enhance price transparency, in allowing consumers to make informed purchase decisions. This is mandated by the Price Display Order which carries a maximum penalty of BND20,000 and five years’ imprisonment.