Inspection uncovers price rule violations

|     Danial Norjidi     |

TWENTY business premises were found committing offences under the Price Control Act, Chapter 142 and price display regulations in January 2019.

The offences were found during daily routine inspections throughout the country and resulted in the issuance of two compounds of BND700 each, eight compounds of BND500 each and 11 warning notices by the Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE).

According to a press release from JPKE, some premises were found selling several brands of cooking oil and powdered infant milk above the maximum prices set by JPKE and selling rice above the maximum prices set by the relevant sector regulator. Other premises were found selling goods without displaying their prices.

JPKE frequently advises retailers to comply with the Price Control Act, Chapter 142 and price display regulations by ensuring price-controlled items are not sold above the approved maximum prices and prices of goods are clearly displayed on the premises.

JPKE noted that businesses and consumers can obtain the updated maximum prices from the PenggunaBijak / SmartConsumer mobile application and JPKE’s website at www.depd.gov.bn/cad.

Department of Economic Planning and Development personnel during the inspection. – JPKE

The mobile application also increases transparency through its price comparison function, which helps consumers make informed purchase decisions.

The press release highlighted that enhancing price transparency builds consumers’ confidence and nurtures sustainable consumption which are essential factors in creating a vibrant business environment.

It was shared that non-compliance to the Price Control Act, Chapter 142 as well as its related regulations can result in businesses being issued a compound fine of not more than BND1,000 after one warning notice. Subsequent offenders can be prosecuted and face a maximum fine of BND20,000 and imprisonment of up to five years by the court.

JPKE reiterated that maximum prices are set on only 12 items listed under the Price Control Act, Chapter 142 including: cooking oil, powdered infant milk, passenger motor vehicles, rice, sugar, and energy products. Businesses are encouraged to offer attractive prices to generate sales, despite the maximum prices set.

Prices of other goods are subjected to market forces. It was shared that consumers are therefore advised to understand their rights and responsibilities to make informed purchase decisions and to get best value-for-money by comparing prices and substitutes in the market.

JPKE added that it welcomes feedback, and any clarification related to price control and consumer protection can be referred to the Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs at: 2230223 (office hours); the PenggunaBijak / SmartConsumer mobile application; email aduanpengguna@jpke.gov.bn or consumercomplaint@jpke.gov.bn; the website www.depd.gov.bn/cad; the Facebook group ‘AduanPenggunaJPKE’; or walk-in at Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs, Department of Economic Planning and Development, Room 3.06, Level 3, West Wing, Block 2A, Jalan Ong Sum Ping, BA1131 Negara Brunei Darussalam.