Friday, January 01, 2016

HM Sultan Brunei Ushers in Economic Reforms 2016


His Majesty ushers in economic reforms
on: January 01, 2016

| Rokiah Mahmud |

GUIDING the country towards 2016, 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, the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade yesterday consented to several significant reforms that aim to realise the country’s aspiration towards diversifying its economy.

At the same time, the monarch reminded the nation that it should not be complacent over conflicts or disputes going on in several parts of the world.

In a titah delivered on the eve of New Year 2016 and broadcast on Radio Televisyen Brunei (RTB), 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.

In the titah, 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 centre will take over several roles that have been currently performed by a number of government agencies. His Majesty lauded the measures that are currently being taken and implemented by Brunei to widen economic opportunities at the international level.

Touching on the country’s economic performance, the monarch in his titah noted that in the last few years, the growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has slowed down which requires us to double domestic production, especially in the non-oil and gas sector. The non- oil and gas sector includes agriculture/fisheries, manufacturing, services including finance, transport, logistics, telecommunication, business, 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.”

Hence, efforts should be strengthened to create a strong, competitive economy, realising that current global economic challenges are increasingly difficult to overcome.

His Majesty reminded that the nation should not be complacent over the ongoing conflicts or disputes in many parts of the world. Such problems are the handiwork of undesirable elements and opportunists and remain a thorn for world peace and tranquillity.

“These undesirable elements and opportunists are not only the armed villains, but also those who use mind weapons such as thoughts and ideas for misleading the people. They control some publications and also some broadcast media and with the strength of these they propagate lies and falsehood,” His Majesty added.

“This is where we should be wiser as we need to assess what is being served to us – whether it is diamond or just glass,” the monarch said, stressing that “let us not trust any medium other than religion so that we will not be disappointed or tricked.”

The New Year’s eve 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 B$300 million, 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 benefit of the county and highlighted the importance of strengthening our determination and patiently continuing our efforts as well as remaining positive and moving progressively in facing the challenges of times.

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