Friday, March 10, 2017
Brunei Minister of Finance II: MOF Budget $752.7 Million
MoF gets B$752.7 M allocation
on: March 09, 2017
| Azaraimy HH |
THE Ministry of Finance (MoF) has been allocated a budget of B$752.7 million for the 2017-2018 financial year, B$272 million less compared to the previous fiscal.
YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance II, revealed this on the third day of the 13th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday.
He said the reduction in allocation is due to an allocation of B$300 million for the Temburong Bridge Project under the development expenditure category which was previously under the miscellaneous services account of the Ministry of Finance.
The minister was delivering the budget speech for the Ministry of Finance in which he said that for the financial year 2017-2018, the ministry and the departments under it have been allocated a total budget of B$752,757,245 to disburse salaries and for recurring expenses, B$272,023,675 less than the B$1,024,780,920 allocated for the 2016-17 fiscal.
In the speech, the minister highlighted initiatives that have been undertaken, with the cooperation of other government agencies, to enhance national productivity and service de-liveries to the public and private sector and create a conducive and competitive business environment which will indirectly support the formation of a more robust and sustainable economy and create more job opportunities for locals.
These include reduction of loan interest from 15 per cent to 2.5 per cent and reduction of management fees from 15 per cent to 10 per cent. Starting April 1, 2017, custom duties on industrial machineries, including spare parts, will be reduced, he said.
The integration Electronic Ports Information System (ePIS) with Brunei Darussalam National Single Window (BDNSW) for the ease the customs declaration was also completed. The BDNSW was also integrated with the E-Payment Gateway to enable online payment starting last April 1, 2016, the minister added.
Starting December 2016, the Royal Customs and Excise Department has begun 24 hour/seven days operation at the Muara Container Terminal with the hope to enhance the country’s import and export activities, he noted, adding that a Code of Ethics for professional accountants was introduced on January 1, 2017.
The minister also mentioned the introduction of Brunei Darussalam Accounting Stan-dards (BDAS) which he said will be enforced from January 1, 2018.
Also mentioned by the minister was the introduction of the Insolvency Order 2016 for restructuring and rehabilitation of companies that are facing financial and operational problems as well as the establishment of a ‘Board of Review’ tasked with examining tax disputes of companies to ensure a fair and accurate administration of corporate tax.
In addition, in its efforts to increase productivity and effectiveness of public services as well as to control operational costs, the Ministry of Finance and departments under it streamlined their organisational structure, the minister said. The steps in this regard include: The absorption of the Supply and State Stores Department, Ministry of Finance to Treasury Department; unification of several divisions under the Ministry of Finance and departments under it; combining internal audit units of departments under the Finance Ministry into one unit; establishing an internal audit committee on a ministry level for increasing the capacity and effectiveness of the function of internal auditing and optimising the use of human resources; and establishing a Delivery Unit with a main role to monitor, facilitate and ensure the strategic planning of the Ministry of Finance is implemented in an efficient and effective manner.
The minister also mentioned that since the launch of the Facilities Rental System (FRS) for sport facilities on September 1, 2016, a total of 114 facilities were rented and until February 2017, B$74,383 was collected.
For the financial year 2017-2018, the Ministry of Finance will continue to stress on prudent spending, increasing the productivity of services provided by it, diversifying the economic base and activities through promoting ease of doing business; building highly skilled human capacity and preserving the welfare of the public.
The minister outlined steps in support of the ministry’s priorities mentioned above such as a public financial management reform, and informed that starting April 1, 2017, ordinary expenditure will be combined with National Development Programme (NDP) expenditure, while special expenditure will be ended.
Elaborating on the effort to expand government revenue, the minister mentioned that the private sector still owes the government B$300 million, including among others, electricity arrears totalling B$260 million. The minister also detailed initiatives such as widening tax base, strengthening tax assessment and enforcing tax collection through field audit and ‘public rulings’.
The minister said the allocation for 2017-2018 for the Ministry of Finance includes B$55,325,865 for staff salaries and B$697,431,380 for recurring expenditure.
Among the expenditures under the recurring expenditure includes B$541,199,982 – to be shared by the Ministry of Finance and all other ministries and government departments. Examples are holiday and airfare allowances, expert and advisor visits, study allowances for government staff and officers.
The Study Focus Account, among others, include the implementation of Graduate Apprenticeship Scheme ($15 million); Recruitment and Management of Expert Teachers for English Language and Mathematics ($17 million); an allocation to support the dev-elopment of micro, small and medium enterprises ($5 million); ‘Project Focus’ programme ($10 million), and miscellaneous projects ($7.5 million).
Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin