Borneo Bulletin, Tuesday 23 February 2016
Photo: Azrol Azmi Design: Suhaili Omar
Photo: Azrol Azmi Design: Suhaili Omar
A CLEAR policy direction to drive the nation ahead was underscored by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah
Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and
Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in his New Year 2016 titah.
The royal address, which focussed mainly on the country’s economy, was timely amid poor oil prices that
result in reduced budgetary spending.
“We will continue to move towards steady economic growth and competitiveness facing the great challenge
posed by an uncertain global economy.”
Touching on the country’s economic performance, the monarch noted in the titah that in the last few years,
the growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has slowed down which requires the country to double domestic
production, especially in the non-oil and gas sector which includes agriculture/fisheries, manufacturing, services
including finance, transport, logistics, telecommunications, trade, tourism and others.
His Majesty said it is important to remember that having a small domestic market is not an excuse for
slow production growth and every company, whether private or government-owned, should be capable of
trading/exporting their products and services outside the country. The monarch stressed that the country’s
economic growth can be stimulated by giving priority to research and the use of latest technology. “This will
help reduce production cost, which will in turn enable us to penetrate
the international market by offering our cost-effective products and
services to them. This means that growth in the country’s products and
exports could elevate the economy to the higher orbit of development,”
the monarch said.
In the titah, His Majesty consented to the establishment of a Foreign
Direct Investment (FDI) and Downstream Industry Committee to make
the country more competitive in attracting foreign investors. The
monarch also approved the Brunei Vision 2035 Framework which was
formulated by the Brunei Vision 2035 Executive Committee in realising
the objective of the ambitious national mission.
His Majesty also consented to the creation of a Small and Medium
Enterprise Centre to handle the needs of small and medium local
enterprises. The New Year titah also highlighted several of the on-going
government projects including the Temburong Bridge Project, the High
Voltage Electricity Transmission Line Project between Lumut and Kuala
Belait and the Lumut Generator Capacity Project.
The almost 30-kilometre-long Temburong Bridge crossing Brunei
waters from the Brunei-Muara District to the Temburong District is seen
as a mega project heralding the modernisation drive of Brunei. Once
completed, His Majesty noted, it will provide many facilities, boosting the
potential of Brunei’s tourism industry.
Meanwhile, the electricity project that costs $300million, is expected
to be completed in the middle of 2016 and hoped to provide sufficient
long-term supply of electricity, besides saving the use of the country’s
valuable natural gas resources, the monarch noted.
Concluding the titah, His Majesty hoped that through Allah the
Almighty’s blessings, more and more projects will follow for the future
determination and patiently continuing our efforts as well as remaining
positive and moving progressively in facing the challenges of times.
Earlier this year, Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia
Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, the Minister at the
Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance II said the decline
in global oil prices is taking its toll on Brunei’s economy, with the
government acknowledging that the current international economic
climate surrounding the oil and gas industry is expected to further
feed into Brunei’s financial deficit, should the trend continue. From a
$213 million shortage in government spending for the year 2014/2015,
it can spiral to $2.3 billion by the end of the current fiscal year if global
oil prices continue to fall, he had noted.
The minister also pointed out the “reality” that the shortfall in
income that accounts for more than half of the country’s GDP, “has
implications on the government’s abilities and ways in current and
future spending, especially if the situation is prolonged”.
On the aspect of policy implementation, His Majesty reminded
government ministries to be more proactive by enhancing their
coordination among each other through a “whole-of-nation” approach
at every level and said intensive monitoring is required to establish the
most complete and accurate information, data and statistics. “Therefore,
all agencies must enhance their respective capacities in gathering and
analysis of information,” added the monarch.
“The key to it is a “culture of change”. It is necessary for civil servants.
If this culture fails to be embraced, then the government agencies will not
be able to streamline their work towards a better and brighter future,” the
ruler said. Meanwhile, in His Majesty’s royal birthday celebration titah last
year, the ruler said in facing the economic challenges, “we are required to
increase our commitment to develop and build ourselves.
“With the current economic challenges affecting many countries around
the world including the Sultanate, Bruneian people need to commit to self-
development,” the monarch said.
“There is nothing more important than resilience, as an investment for
the future, while measures for economic diversification must be continued
without prejudice to the country’s existing resources,” His Majesty
emphasised in the titah.