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October 15, 2019

Deceptive ads offering lucky draws comparable to gambling: MCC vice chair

Misleading advertisements that offer highly appealing lucky draw prizes can be classified as deceptive, and they are more akin to gambling than a good deal, said U Than Maung, the vice chair of the Myanmar Competition Commission (MCC).
“Advertising is a subset of marketing. It offers sales incentives such as lucky draw prizes. However, some ads are designed to deceive. For example, a product may be worth a paltry sum, but advertisements may induce customers to buy it by offering appealing, expensive lucky draw prizes, such as a viss of gold (a viss equals to 1.6 kg). Such ads can be clubbed under unfair competition. False advertising hurts competition and honest sellers. Now, lottery tickets are on sale, and the prices cannot be fixed. However, some offer lucky prizes to lure customers. Misleading ads are comparable to gambling,” he said.
“Selling lucky draw prizes rather than products amounts to unfair conduct, which must not be resorted to. Prevention measures for unfair competition can benefit the people,” he said.
“Some false advertisements are highlighting lucky draw prizes to attract the attention of customers, and people tend to disregard the products or services offered when they fall for lucky draws. This is unfair competition. Prevention of unfair competition will benefit us,” said U Than Maung.
“Therefore, the MCC is committed to making sure businesses abide by the Competition Law,” he added.
“Sure, advertising is legal, but, under Section 18 of the Competition Law, businessmen are not allowed to mislead consumers using deceptive information about the legally registered name of goods, business slogans, logos, packaging, geographical indicators, and other elements. For example, advertising using misleading information on social networking sites, such as Facebook and YouTube, to impress people is in violation of the Competition Law. We need to protect honest traders in line with fair competition rules, under the law. Deceptive ads can harm end-users, consumers, and the whole market system. This is why legal action against unfair practices is a must,” U Than Maung added.
Fair competition can boost economic activity and guarantee consumers choose products at a fair price, according to the MCC.
Therefore, truth in advertising is essential, said U Thuta Aung, an economist and a member of the MCC. “I would like to ask entrepreneurs not to bend the truth in advertisements,” said U Thuta Aung.
“So far, four complaints have been filed with the inspection committee, since the founding of the MCC on 31 October, 2018,” said U Ko Ko Lay, the director of the MCC.
“Entrepreneurs play a pivotal role in the economic development of a country. And, fair competition among businesses is also crucial to the economy,” said U Than Maung.
The Competition Law prohibits unfair coordination such as price fixing; restricting production; collusive tendering or auctioning; driving out rivals from the market; sharing insider information; abusing market dominance; discrimination among businessmen; refusal to supply and provide products or services to other businesses; fixing unfair prices; and, anti-competitive mergers. Those who violate the competition law can be imprisoned for three months to three years, and/or face a fine of up to K15 million. The Union Government established the Myanmar Competition Commission on 31 October last year, through notification no. 106/2018, to carry out the functions and duties embodied in the Competition Law, which was enacted in 2015. The Commerce Minister fulfils the role of the chairman of the commission, and its members include representatives from the Union Attorney General’s Office, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Transport and Communications, Ministry of Industry, UMFCCI, economists, and lawyers.  (Translated by Ei Myat Mon)

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