Eleven buffalo and cattle meat vendors in the Gadong wet market were issued warning letters recently forselling buffalo and cattle meat above the capped prices set by the Seasonal Maximum Price (SMP) Directive.

In a statement issued by the Department of Economic Planning and Statistics (DEPS), an inspection was conducted on 11 May by the Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) where vendors did not display the prices of their products, not complying with the Price Display Order. 

Warning notices were issued to violating vendors and subsequent offences will be met with a compound of up to $500.

Prices were found to range from $15 to $17 per kilo, which exceed the capped price of $13 per kilo set under the SMP Directive.

In an attempt to circumvent the Directive, vendors were found offering inferior cuts of meat at $13 per kilo.

Price labels were also found to be incomplete, hung up above eye level in small prints. Warning letters were issued for not complying with the SMP Directive.

Image: Courtesy of DPES

In a previous visit to the same wet market, vendors were found not displaying labels or displaying price boards that did not correspond to prices quoted to consumers, stating ‘pre-covid prices’ as excuses 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, in order to remain ethical and to 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. 

These reasons are unacceptable as consumers have the right to basic information for conveniently and quickly comparing items and prices before making a purchase.

Image: Courtesy of DPES

The public is encouraged to make use of features related to prices of essential goods in the PenggunaBijak app and the DCCA official website, as a reference on prices being offered in the market.

Prices of essential goods currently 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 would like to remind vendors of 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 $20,000 and 5 years imprisonment.

The public may reach the DCCA related to issues or concerns on prices set under the SMP Directive through Talian Darussalam 123, the PenggunaBijak mobile app or via email to aduanpengguna@jpes.gov.bn / consumercomplaint@jpes.gov.bn. – Analisa Amu

Image: Courtesy of DPES

This article was first published on June 5, 2021 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 144

THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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