Competition watchdog gets new name, consumer protection powers

The Competition Commission of Singapore was renamed the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) on April 1.
The Competition Commission of Singapore was renamed the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) on April 1.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM CCCS.GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - Singapore's competition watchdog will now play a more direct role in protecting consumers, with new powers to act against recalcitrant retailers.

The Competition Commission of Singapore was renamed the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) on April 1, when it took over the enforcement of rules relating to retailers that persist in unfair trade practices under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, or CPFTA.

Spring Singapore, which previously administered the CPFTA, merged with International Enterprise Singapore on Monday (April 2) to form Enterprise Singapore.

This new merged agency is focusing on providing support to local businesses as well as overseeing regulations involving safety requirements for consumer goods, including toys and controlled items such as hair straighteners and other electrical and gas appliances that must be tested and affixed with the Safety mark before they can be sold in Singapore.

According to the commission, the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) and Singapore Tourism Board will remain the first points of contact for complaints by local consumers and tourists respectively.

Retailers that do not stop their unfair practices, such as making false claims or asking for payment for unsolicited goods and services, will then be referred to the commission for investigation. The agency is empowered to gather evidence against such businesses, file injunction applications against them and enforce compliance with injunction orders issued by the courts.

"The complementary nature of competition and consumer protection work allows CCCS to better regulate and promote well-functioning markets," the agency said on its website.

Spring, which was administering the CPFTA since December 2016, took legal action once in that time.

Last December, it applied for an injunction with the High Court against SG Vehicles, a parallel importer of cars, for engaging in practices such as making false claims and selling defective goods.

The matter was referred by Case after it received dozens of complaints from disgruntled buyers, and SG Vehicles failed to sign a Voluntary Compliance Agreement to stop its unfair practices. The case is now before the courts.