JPKE conducts price control spot check on retail outlets
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
OVER 179 warning letters had been issued to companies since 2014, said a senior official at the Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE).
In addition to about 179 warnings issued to date, 13 compound fines had been issued for repeated violations since 2014.
The Price Control Act (Chapter 142) empowers JPKE to cap prices of certain items such as cooking oil, baby milk formula, passenger motor vehicles and clay bricks. It also includes price controls of subsidised items such as sugar and rice.
Three supermarkets in the Brunei-Muara area underwent surprise spot checks yesterday by the Price Control Unit, with at least one written warning issued.
“We have to give the right signal to the business community,” said the Deputy Director General at JPKE, Hj Abd Amin Hj Hashim. Price control regulations had been introduced to keep cost of necessities for low income families down. Overall however, Hj Abd Amin said that they were generally happy with the cooperation given from businesses in regards to the price controls.
Inspections take place regularly on a week-to-week basis, said Hj Abd Amin, noting that they will also act upon consumer complaints.
One such recent issue was a viral image of a receipt carrying a GST tax in Brunei, which he said was due to a mistake by the cashier. Once reported, JPKE conducted an immediate check on the premises, and said that the matter had been settled between the customer and the business.
Hj Abd Amin also said that they were considering expanding price controls to better protect low-income families.
“We try to see where goods that are normally being used every day and become a burden, especially to those with low income. One that comes to mind is baby napkins (diapers) because that is quite costly”.
“It is one area which actually takes up a lot of expenditure from low income families,” he said.
He said it is something that they will have to study extensively on, because one issue is that there is a wide range of brands and sizes when it comes to baby diapers, so it would be somewhat difficult to impose price controls.
Under the 2014 Revised Edition of the Price Control Act, JPKE can issue appropriate penalties to price cap violations, which includes a warning notice, a compound of no more than $1000; two years imprisonment and a $5000 compound; or a harsher penalty of five years imprisonment and a $20,000 compound.
The JPKE encourages the public to direct complaints regarding pricing of items to 223223 during office hours, their email at Aduanpengguna@jpke.gov.bn or their facebook /AduanPenggunaJPKE. Current price control items and their maximum/minimum prices can be found at the Consumer Affairs Section of JPKE.gov.bn
The Brunei Times