JPKE conducts surprise inspection of business premises in Tutong

THE Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE), Prime Minister’s Office through the Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs conducted a surprise visit to several business premises in the Tutong District.

The visit was led by the Deputy Permanent Secretary (Economy and Finance) at the Prime Minister’s Office Pengiran Hajah Siti Nirmala binti Pengiran Mohammad.

Also present was the Acting Deputy Director-General of Economic Planning and Development, Hajah Mariah binti Haji Yahya.

The surprise visit aimed to ensure that items under the Price Control Act, Chapter 142, especially cooking oil, formulated powdered milk, rice and sugar, are not sold above the set maximum prices.

Also included in the price-controlled inspection are 13 categories of food items selected specifically for the festive season which includes whole chicken; eggs; butter; margarine; ghee; flour; condensed, evaporated and cream milk; condensed, cream and powdered coconut milk; chocolate hazelnut spread; chilli shrimp floss; and popia skin.

These 13 categories of goods are set maximum price from the 1st of Ramadhan to the 7th of Syawal 1439 Hijrah.

The visit also inspected business compliance on display of price tags and Sales Regulations under the Price Control (Cheap Sale Price) Regulations and Price Control (Display of Prices) Order.

During the inspection of prices of selected goods set with maximum prices during festive season at a business premises. – JPKE

Several offences were found in four business premises. One premises was issued with a compound of BND700 for being a third offender for not displaying prices on several goods. The same premises was also issued a warning letter for selling coconut milk above the maximum price set by JPKE during the festive season.

Meanwhile, another premises was issued a compound of BND500 for selling cooking oil and formula powdered milk above the maximum price for the second time. It was also issued a warning notice for not displaying prices on several food items in store, which contravenes the Price Control (Display of Prices) Order.

Two other business premises were issued with warning notices for selling goods on discount not notified to JPKE, an offence under the Price Control (Cheap Sale Price) Regulations.

During the visit, JPKE advised businesses not to sell above the set ceiling price during the duration of the festive price control scheme. Also highlighted to businesses were the importance of price tagging and to avoid promotional strategies which can mislead consumers as found during the surprise visit.

JPKE reminded businesses to ensure that price tags are labelled accordingly and placed clearly for the items selling in store in accordance to the Price Control (Display of Prices) Order and Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Order, 2011.

JPKE continuously conducts routine inspections to business premises on price-controlled items listed in the Price Control Act in all four districts on a daily basis.

On average a total of 240 different premises are inspected every month according to schedule. These includes 200 premises in Brunei-Muara District; 15 premises in Belait District; 15 premises in Tutong District and five premises in Temburong District.

The scope of routine inspection also includes checking on price tagging of goods displayed and the conduct of sales activities to prevent unethical sales strategies, which can mislead consumers.

Businesses found selling price controlled goods listed in the Price Control Act above the set maximum price will be issued with a warning notice for the first offence and a compound of no more than BND1,000 for subsequent offences.

Further offences can be taken to the court and be imposed penalties with a fine of BND5,000 and imprisonment of two years for the first offence; or a fine of BND20,000 and imprisonment of five years for a repeated offence.

JPKE sets maximum prices for four types of goods: cooking oil, formulated powdered milk, passenger motor vehicle, and clay bricks. Goods other than those listed in the Act are determined by traders themselves through economic forces of supply and demand. This is to ensure and to maintain a healthy and fair business environment in Brunei Darussalam.

JPKE advised the public to practise ‘Smart Consumer’ concept to compare prices of goods in different stores before making purchase decisions, for the best value for money.

Price information of various essential goods from various stores for comparison are accessible from the PenggunaBijak / SmartConsumer mobile application.

This Price Comparison initiative is participated by businesses on a voluntarily basis.

The application also provides information on stores participating in sales activities, festive price control scheme and prices of long term price controlled goods in the Price Control Act including passenger vehicle.

Also available in the app are consumers protection related laws, as well as feedback mechanism directly to JPKE.

For inquiries or feedback, the public can contact JPKE through their mobile application, call 2230223 during office hours or send an email to aduanpengguna@jpke.gov.bn or consumercomplaint@jpke.gov.bn, visit www.facebook.com/AduanPenggunaJPKE or go to its office at Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs, Room 3.06, Level 3, West Wing, Department of Economic Planning and Development, Block 2A, Jalan Ong Sum Ping Road, BA1131.