| Danial Norjidi |
THE Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE), Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) through the Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs, conducted a surprise visit to several business premises in the Belait District yesterday.
According to a press release from JPKE, the surprise visit was carried out as part of a continuous effort to cover all districts in the country with the main objective of ensuring price controlled goods under the Price Control Act, Chapter 142, including 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 festive season. These include 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.
Maximum price was set for these 13 categories of goods from the 1st Ramadhan to the 7th of Syawal, 1439 Hijrah.
The visit also saw the inspection of 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.
The visit was led by Deputy Permanent Secretary (Economy and Finance) at the PMO Pengiran Hajah Siti Nirmala binti Pengiran Mohammad.
Also present was the Acting Deputy Director General of Planning and Economic Development Hajah Mariah binti Haji Yahya.
The press release stated that during the surprise visit, several offences were found in three business premises.
The premises were issued with warning letters for selling goods (including coconut milk, butter, flour, eggs, ghee, chocolate hazelnut spread and spring roll skin) above the maximum prices set by JPKE for the festive season.
Three warning notices were also issued for offences under the Price Control Act, Chapter 142. Several items including cooking oil, rice and formula powdered milk were found selling above the maximum price.
It was also found that prices were not displayed on several food items in their stores, which contravenes Price Control Act, Chapter 142 and Price Control (Display of Prices) Order.
For subsequent offences, the businesses can be imposed: a fine of BND5,000 and imprisonment for two years for the first offence by the court; or a fine of BND20,000 and imprisonment of five years for a repeated offence by the court.
JPKE sets maximum prices for four types of goods namely, 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 the concept of ‘Smart Consumer,’ that is to compare prices of goods in different stores before making purchase decisions.
Price information of various essential goods from various stores for comparison is accessible from the PenggunaBijak/SmartConsumer mobile application. These stores participate in this Price Comparison initiative voluntarily.
The application also provides information on stores participating in sales activities, maximum prices of price controlled goods during festive seasons and other price controlled goods in the Price Control Act including passenger vehicle. Also available in the application are consumer related laws and a feedback and complaint mechanism.