Brunei to enforce Competition Order

Regulation outlaws cartel arrangements, abusing dominance and anti-competitive mergers

Brunei will enforce it’s competition law in the near future to ensure fair trade for businesses and protect consumer welfare, the Economic Planning and Development Department (JPKE) at the Prime Minister’s Office said yesterday.

The Competition Order 2015 focuses on tackling anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant positions and anti-competitive mergers, said JPKE Acting Assistant Director Heidi Farah Sia Abdul Rahman (pictured) in a dialogue with the business community on importing cement last Friday at the Design and Technology building.

“The order is designed to protect the consumer as well promote an even playing field for businesses that is fair and transparent,” said Farah, who noted that competition law is standard in many countries, including Brunei’s regional counterparts in ASEAN.

Speaking in the context of importing cement, Farah said penalties include a ten per cent fine of the business’ turnover for up to three years, being sued or taken legal action against by a third party and cancellation of the import permit. “The businesses also risk losing their reputation and trust if found guilty,” she added.

The government recently abolished the cement import quota, opening up opportunities for construction companies to import cement more freely in a move expected to drive down cement and construction costs.

This will create more opportunities in the industry and spin-offs for local micro, small and medium enterprises in the process.

Farah pointed out that as the import market for cement has been opened up, companies should not attempt to make anti-competitive agreement, which are summed up as: price fixing, fixing market share, controlling supply and rigging bids.

Price fixing is banding together with other companies or through an association to set high prices and restrict competition, while fixing a market share means dividing the market – whether geographic or demographic – for the purpose of allowing a company to exclusively dominate or monopolize that market.

“An example is that companies agree amongst themselves that one will only cater to the Brunei-Muara market while the other will only cater to Tutong,” said Farah.

Purposefully restricting the supply of cement for the sole purpose of raising prices is also against the order while bid rigging – where companies conspire to share information illegally amongst themselves to increase or control the tender price – is also against the law.

The public can access the summary and full document of the Competition Order at JPKE’s website at www.depd.gov.bn.

Also attending yesterday’s dialogue were the Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awg Hj Md Yasmin Hj Umar, the Permanent Secretary (Industry) at EIDPMO Hj Mohhd Azmi Hj Mohd Hanifah and the Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Development Hj Marzuke Hj Mohsin.

Public Service Announcement