The Economic Planning and Development Department (JPKE) is currently recruiting and training staff as well as setting up guidelines to push forward with enforcement of the Competition Order 2015, said one of its senior officer.

According to acting director of Competition and Consumer Affairs Department, Heidi Farah Sia Rahman, the legislation regulates and promotes a fair business environment, encouraging more foreign investors while also protecting consumers against harmful business practices such as price-fixing and limiting supply.

“The order was passed in 2015. As of August last year, we have set up the Competition Commission of Brunei Darussalam… Everything will be done in [phases],” she told The Scoop.

Under the order, businesses found practicing bid or tender rigging, anti-competitive mergers (cartel agreements) and abuse of dominance may be penalised up to 10 per cent of three years’ turnover.

Members of the Malay Chambers of Commerce listening to a talk on the Competition Order on March 28, 2018.

Heidi said JPKE is actively educating businesses and members of the public about the legislation before it is enforced.

She added that Brunei will also set up a competition tribunal: “In ASEAN, Brunei is one of the few countries still in the [setting up stages]. Singapore and Malaysia have already started enforcing competition law five to 10 years ago.”

She cited a few examples of practices in neighbouring countries which have been stopped by competition law, including a 2015 price-fixing case where a Confectionery and Bakery Association in Malaysia agreed for its members to increase the price of goods in Sibu, Sarawak by 10 to 15 percent. The penalty included a fine of nearly MYR 250,000.

The framework of most free-trade agreements also contain competition law, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which Brunei has just signed on to, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is still under negotiations.

JPKE held a talk last night to raise awareness on the Competition Order 2015 for members of the Malay Chambers of Commerce .

This headline and lede for this article was updated on 7.25pm, March 29, 2018, to reflect a clarification from the Department of Economic Planning and Development