THE Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE) recorded a 98.4 per cent compliance rate by retailers on the Price Control Act in April this year, compared to 96.8 per cent in March and 96.5 per cent in February.
Only six offences were recorded in April, compared to 12 offences in March, which involved the selling of cooking oil and powdered infant milk above the maximum prices set by JPKE, as well as offering goods for sale without displaying the prices.
As a result, four BND500 compounds, one BND700 compound and 13 warning notices were issued by JPKE.
All of the offences were found in the Brunei-Muara District during daily routine inspections to ensure retailers comply with the Price Control Act, Chapter 142 and its related regulations.
Only 12 categories of basic necessities are listed as price-controlled items in the Act on a long-term basis: cooking oil, powdered infant milk, rice, sugar, passenger motor vehicles, clay bricks, motor gasoline (Premium 97, Regular 85 and Super 92), diesel fuel, bottled liquefied gas petroleum and dual-purpose kerosene.
For the festive season from 1st of Ramadhan to 7th of Syawal 1440 Hijrah, JPKE has also set maximum prices on eight categories of selected daily food necessities. They are: whole chicken; chicken eggs; butter; margarine; ghee; flour; milk (condensed, evaporated and cream); and coconut milk (powdered, condensed and cream).
This initiative is intended to maintain the affordability of selected high-consumption food items which are used in food preparation over the festive Ramadhan and Hari Raya period.
In its press statement, JPKE said, “Although maximum prices are set on … specific goods, retailers are encouraged to offer competitive prices below the ceiling price, to compete and attract customers. The prices of goods other than those in the price-controlled list are subjected to market forces.
“Retailers are also inspected to ensure ethical and fair trade practices by displaying price tags or discounts clearly, to inform consumers in making purchase decisions, and in observing the Price Display and Sales Regulations.
“Meanwhile, consumers are reminded of their responsibility to know their rights to always make choices through comparing price, quality of available substitutes in the market, understanding the terms and condition of sales, in making value for money and smart purchase decisions.”
Businesses have also been advised to take appropriate measures in compliance with the Price Control Act, Chapter 142, in addition to related regulations. Failure to do so can result in a compound of up to BND1,000 after the first warning notice, while repeat offenders face a maximum fine of BND20,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.
The public is encouraged to make use of the PenggunaBijak/SmartConsumer mobile application, which includes price comparison that enable consumers to compare prices of selected daily necessities, list of retailers participating in sales and discounts activities, as well as updated maximum prices set on the 12 items listed under the Price Control Act, Chapter 142.
-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin