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Brunei to sign economic reform law with UN

Publication Date : 28-05-2012

 

Brunei is expected to sign a deal with a United Nations body which will see the country get assistance in drafting a competition policy and law (CPL) framework, a senior UN official said.

Such a legal framework will level the playing field and dis-courage dominant companies from "bullying" the competition, said Hassan Qaqaya, the head of the UN Conference on Trade and Development's (Unctad) competition law and consumer policies branch, without specifying a timeline.

Qaqaya, who was speaking on the sidelines of a competition policy workshop at the Rizqun International Hotel in Gadong on Saturday, said an agreement has been reached for Unctad to assist the Brunei government in preparing the competition policy and law also known as the anti-trust and trade regulation law framework and setting up a specific body to oversee its implementation and enforcement.

"We actually agreed yesterday (Friday) that we will sign a cooperation agreement for three years, for Unctad to accompany the agency for three years till it's actually running and definitely working," said Hassan, who delivered a talk on competition policy and law in the context of small economies.

He explained that the competition policy framework would have to consider various aspects such as "the overall policy design; understanding what Brunei thinks of competition in general; how it should implement it; and how it should be coherent with industrial policy and with (the) support of medium and small enterprises, and public enterprises".

"We are working with the government to prepare this," he said.

Other aspects of the Memorandum of Cooperation to be signed with the Prime Minister's Office include drafting the competition law as well as building human capacity to man the proposed competition agency or commission.

"First (we have) to finalise the law, and then to train staff (and) to set up the agency, to train the commissioners, to set up the library, electronic equipment, to do study tours and so on."

Hassan added that he would be involved in some of the activities, while Geneva-based Unctad experts in cartel investigations, compliance and consumer protection were also among the resources available to help Brunei build up its manpower.

Professionals like lawyers and economists can be trained to work for the agency, particularly in the aspect of investigations, through educational trips to Asean and European countries where competition laws and agencies have already been established as well as internship programmes at UN offices.

"This is what we do with other countries as part of our capacity-building (programme)," he said.

He was also eyeing the possibility of conducting twinning programmes with "younger competition agencies" like in Mauritius, Singapore or Taiwan, where the Brunei personnel can learn from their experience and best practices.

During Saturday's briefing, permanent secretary of law and welfare at the Prime Minister's Office Yahya Hj Idris reiterated Brunei's interest in laying down the framework for competition policy and law, saying that it will address corporate governance issues and set priorities for foreign direct investments to help Brunei meet international obligations on free trade and boost investor confidence in the country.

 

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