Day 2 Leg Co

It was an interesting day yesterday. After the pomp and ceremony on the first day of the Leg Co, yesterday the members got down to business. The first order of the day was the notified questions. This is the time when members ask question to the government members in advance. This allows the government members to prepare and when called upon the various ministers stood up to answer the questions. This would have been a wonderful opportunity if members of the public had asked one of the sittng members to post a question. This feature, common place in other parliaments were not in the new Brunei Leg Co until this year.

The questions were interesting ranging from that bridge (yes again) to TAP to narcotics. The various answers given by the ministers were okay - remember, they were notified and therefore prepared. What's not in place is the 'supplementaries'. In most other parliaments, the supplementary question is a place where the minister after giving a glorious answer to the first question sometime goes flat in the face when faced with a supplementary question normally debunking whatever he had said in the first place. I could imagine all sorts of supplementary questions today.

After that two motions were passed. The first was to thank His Majesty for the speech. The second was the reason why the Leg Co was convened - approving the budget. The Second Finance Minister gave his budget speech which had I been in old Ministry, I would have a hand in preparing but not this time round. Other than the usual yes the oil price is good but... there was an important measure which MOF had finally shifted ground - there is a change in the income tax rates - a rate which has not changed since its introduction in mid 1950s.

Our corporate tax rates of 30% which is among the highest in the region of 30% will be 27.5% this year and 25.5% the year after. Hopefully that should prove a boost to foreign companies wanting to operate in Brunei. Admittedly this is still far from Hong Kong's 17.5% and Singapore's 18% but is now more competitive compared to Malaysia's 28%, Indonesia's and Thailand's 30% and Philippines' 32%. The Minister also announced several measures including stepping the rates as well as announcing better capital allowances. This is indeed historical as budget speeches throughout the years has never touched on corporate taxation as a fiscal measure. The government is sacrificing its income in order to make Brunei more competitive and to get more investments coming to Brunei.

Anyway, you should all read the papers as they can give much better analysis than I can.

PS. By the way, someone went over board praising me yesterday for posting photos of the members. Actually the State Councils Department (the department in charge of the administration of all the Councils in Brunei including the Legislative Council) even provided profiles for all members. If you are interested in knowing who are your representatives, click here. A word of warning - do not click on the 'versi Bahasa Inggeris' as that will take you to their old website complete with the old Lapau. And if you are at all interested on what was actually discussed, the Hansard (that's the verbatim report of the discussions), you can also download it. Unfortunately the only year available is 2006. The 2007 is available on hard copy and hopefully they put them on-line soon.


Mohammad said…
:)SMILEY for you there, Mr P.S.. Overboard across the board is the norm in any State (or isn't it National now?) LegCo Meeting Openings, boss! That is the M.I.B way of doing things in Brunei, sir i.e. first one has to praise (angkat-angkat, anjung-anjung tapi bukan ampu-ampu tu!) before he/she will start to criticise... hehehe;)

In my personal opinion, I think our LegCo proceedings is still not as well organised as Parliamentary sittings in other more established democracies like Singapore (top notch) and Malaysia. Like right now the Singapore Parliament is still debating the 2008/2009 Budget with each of the 61-Member Parliament given a limited time of only 18 minutes to table their questions posed to Government Ministers, if I am not mistaken.

Still, it is much better than not having any LegCo "Syura" at all.

Also the fact that our peaceful country has not gotten into the 'Elected Representatives' mode yet, so the punch or "Oomph!" is nowhere as exciting as the British Parliament (minus the booings and the boisterous table thumpings!).

What's still very much lacking is the Voice of Youth amongst Line-Up of our YBs who're above 50s mostly:(
Rozan Yunos said…
thanks for the smiley... Sorry to use your overboard praising to lead to my intention which was to highlight the profile of the members on the legco website.
Just out of curiousity, what percentage (and figure) of government's revenue is accrued from corporate tax in the last few years?
I understand Brunei has been running a budget deficit, I'm quite surprised that the govt's move is to reduce tax and not the other way around.
Unfortunately, I have not seen any research paper that actually looks at the effectiveness of fiscal tax (in this case corporate tax) on the growth of FDI. I once read a book by Cleary and Shuang (1994) who argued that the fiscal benefits "cannot be fully utilized and in some ways are irrelavant" (although I tend to counter-argue). Nevertheless, the point is we need to see the effect of tax incentives on FDI and on the economic diversification itself.
In fact if you refer to the World Bank's report on Doing Business in Brunei (2007) we actually score well in the 'tax' indicator.

Plus, does this mean that I should expect an increase in tax (reduction in subsidy) in other areas? Because surely any government in the world would want to balance their budget.
David said…
Erm.. wonder if we are going to 'choose' our electives anytime soon.. I dont really see a 'parliament' being democratic if the representatives are not elected. From what I can see from the current members' list.. non are elected nor are members of the 'common' public.

I also do not see any listings of the village representatives nor any contact details.. I guess its only the beginning but if this is to work.. all these things should be publicly available.. Another issue which I forsee is that a lot of 'representatives' would not appear because they are simply not 'trained' in politics. Many of the village heads are simple people who wouldnt know much about these procedures. Maybe what Legco should first do is to create a body to educate the representatives on the proper etiquette / dress codes / sequence / procedures. I doubt many of them would know these themselves.

I seriously look forward to see the people having a say in the running of their govt. Its a step forward for everyone.

I think if any, the first person I would nominate and vote for is you. heheheh. Go on.. you know you want to :)

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