Malaysian school bus operators get new warning over price-fixing

Malaysian school bus operators get new warning over price-fixing

PETALING JAYA - The country's competition commission has issued another stern warning to a group of school bus operators intent on collectively increasing their fares.

The Malaysia Competition Commission's (MyCC) warned the Malaysian School Bus Association Alliance (GPBSM) following confirmation that its members had decided to collectively increase bus fares early next year.

"Any association member found taking part in agreeing to collectively fix the fares is infringing the (Competition) Act and can be imposed a financial penalty of up to 10 per cent of their turnover.

"The MyCC may also impose any other directive considered appropriate to ensure future compliance," said its chief executive officer Shila Dorai Raj in a statement here yesterday.

She was responding to a report that some 18,000 bus operators nationwide under GPBSM president Mohd Rofik Mohd Yusof had agreed collectively to increase fares by 30 per cent starting next year.

Mohd Rofik was quoted as saying that the increase could not be avoided due to rising operational costs and vehicle repair works following the subsidy rationalisation move by the Government early this month.

On Oct 13, MyCC chairman Tan Sri Siti Norma Yaakob had advised school bus operators to set their fares independently and avoid price fixing as this would contravene Section 4 of the Competition Act.

This warning was issued following the statement by the Coalition of School Bus Operators secretary-general Md Saad Moha­mad that fares would likely rise by RM5 (S$1.95) to RM10 in January under a new fare structure. The rates would be finalised by the end of the year.

Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hasan Malek had said that with the deregulation of the school bus fare structure, this was the time for consumers to exercise their rights to negotiate for reasonable fares with the respective operators.

"Consumers can then ensure they are getting a fair deal as well as help fight cartel-like behaviour," he said.

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