JPKE to Enforce Law Ensuring Fair Trade And Protection for Businesses

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Pictures by Syafiq

Waqiuddin Rajak

BRUNEI will be enforcing its Competitive Order soon.

Officials from the Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE) explained that the law aimed to ensure fair trade and protection for businesses in the country, with three main focus identified and to be implemented in phases.

This was shared in a dialogue held at the Design and Technology Building last night, with JPKE’s Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs Acting Director Heidi Farah Sia Abdul Rahman leading the discussion.

The first phase will see the implementation of laws against anti-competitive agreements (through formation of cartels), this includes; price fixing, fixing market share, controlling the supplies and rigging bids.

 Price fixing refers to businesses banding together to agree on a set of prices, which could be high for other businesses outside the circle to catch up and eventually leave the market.

Fixing market share refers to the act of carving territories and determines which businesses should dominate an area or segment of the market; and agreed not to compete between each other due to that.

Controlling the supplies refers to the act of businesses agreeing together to make restriction production of goods and provision of services, so they could set high prices for them when they are in demand.

Rigging bids refers to businesses conspiring together to manipulate a bid, and agreed to come up with a selected winner.  An example given was for companies to set same high prices to give way for a select company to win a tender.

Once enforced, the next phases will see the implementation of laws against abuse of dominant positions and anti-competitive mergers.

Failure to comply with the law may cause a penalty of 10 per cent of the turnover within a maximum of three years, ordered to stop their business activities, being sued by third parties and loss of reputation, as their offence will also be publicly displayed through the media.

The law however allowed exemptions if all of the four actions are aimed at improving production and distribution, fostering technical and economic development, allowing innovation and long-term economic efficiency, and if a transparent public policy is involved.

Actions that hold importance to the economy and public policy, in adherence to international obligations and products and services regulated by other competition laws are automatically exempted.

So are businesses such as waste management services, scheduled buses and others that are stated in the monopoly act.

The closed-door dialogue held last night was directed more towards explaining to members of the Brunei Malay Chamber of Commerce and the media on the do’s and don’ts under the law.

Those who were present encouraged to be cautious when sharing information and advise their colleagues or subordinates to avoid being involved in breaching the law.

At the moment, JPKE is focusing on promoting knowledge towards this law so businesses are aware and stop practices that are against the order, if any.

No timeline was given as to when the first phase will be implemented, but progress is indicated with the setting up of the Competition Commission in August last year to accommodate the law that has been passed in 2015.