Price control offences down by half, says JPKE

THE Department of Economic Planning and Development’s (JPKE) price control enforcement statistics has shown a drop in price control offences by half in February compared to January. Only 11 offences were found in February compared to 21 offences recorded in the previous month. The positive development is due to continuous effort by JPKE in its enforcement and advocacy effort to promote ethical business conducts and to uphold consumer welfare.

The 11 offences involved businesses selling cooking oil above the maximum prices set by JPKE and selling rice above the maximum prices set by the relevant sector regulator; selling goods without displaying prices and conducting cheap sale price activities without notifying JPKE. Six compounds of BND500 each and five warning notices were issued by JPKE.

The offences were found during daily routine inspections conducted by JPKE. These inspections are carried out throughout the country continuously, to ensure businesses do not sell price-controlled items above the approved maximum prices set by JPKE and relevant sector regulators, on specific goods listed in the Act. Businesses are also checked on their adherence to the price display and sales regulations, to ensure sales activities are conducted in an ethical manner.

Consumers are also reminded that they have the responsibility to know their rights to make comparison and be aware of available substitutes in the market in achieving value for money purchase decisions making. JPKE has provided platforms including SmartConsumer mobile application, which includes functions such as price comparisons on selected daily necessities, list of businesses offering sales and discounts, as well as updated maximum prices set on the 12 items listed under the Price Control Act, Chapter 142.

Despite the maximum prices set on the twelve items which include cooking oil, powdered infant milk, passenger motor vehicles, rice, sugar, and energy products, businesses are free to offer competitive prices below the ceiling price, to compete and attract customers. Goods other than the 12 price-controlled items are subjected to market forces and consumers are advised to exercise their consumer right to choose before making purchases.

Businesses are advised to take appropriate steps to ensure that they comply to the Price Control Act, Chapter 142 as well as its related regulations at all times as failure to do so can result in penalty through compound of not more than BND1,000 after the first warning notice. Repeated offenders can be prosecuted and face a maximum fine of BND20,000 and imprisonment of up to five years by the court.

Any clarification related to price control and consumer protection matters can be referred to the Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs at 2230223 or e-mail consumercomplaint@jpke.gov.bn