Sunday, March 19, 2017

Brunei Development Budget 2017/2018 - $1 billion


$1 billion for 10th NDP
on: March 19, 2017

| Hakim Hayat |

THE slower pace of economic growth due to global oil price woes and a tight overall budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal did not deter the government to do a pump-priming to catalise the economy.

A budget totalling $1 billion has been proposed to fund projects and programmes under the 10th National Development Plan (NDP) during the new financial year, a 30 per cent increase compared to the $700 million allocated for the 2016-17 NDP.

This was announced by YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, the Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Minister of Finance II, on the 10th day of the 13th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday.

During the budget deliberation, he said that the new financial year’s proposed budget for the 10th NDP has been devised to sustain the focus and priorities of the budget theme for 2017-2018 which emphasises objective spending to support sustainable economic growth.

The distribution of the budget will focus on the commitment for completed projects with liability and ongoing projects, while projects that are in the process of bidding/design/planning will be given priority only if they are in line with the new financial year budget’s focus, the minister said.He added that 24.8 per cent of the allocation will be for completed projects with liabilities while 73.4 per cent will go to projects that are in progress and 1.7 per cent will be for projects that are still in bidding/design/planning stages.

The allocation will also take into account the focus on a number of main sectors, with the transportation and communications sector getting the largest share of 37.8 per cent. Industry and trade sector will receive 19 per cent.

The social services sector will be allocated 9.8 per cent of the budget while the public consumption sector will have a 6.4 per cent share.

The science, information technology, research, development and innovation sector will be allocated 1.1 per cent of the budget while one per cent will be earmarked for the security sector.

The public building sector will receive a budget share of 0.3 per cent.

Earlier in the speech, the minister said the NDP is envisioned to support the country’s economic diversification policies and boost the source of national revenue.

“It does not just pave the way for growth of the private sector, including micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and support the ease of doing business initiatives in the country, but what’s more visible today is a change in mindset among the people, which is evident from the emergence of new entrepreneurs among the youth who are contributing to the country’s economic activities,” he added.

The minister also informed the session that out of the 567 projects under the 10th NDP, 416, or 73.5 per cent, have been completed while 13.2 per cent are still in various stages of implementation.

Some 41 projects are still in bidding process while 35 projects are in design and planning stages.

He revealed that until the end of February 2017, the actual expenditure under the 10th NDP during the last financial year stands at 90.3 per cent of the original allocation of $700 million.

This brings the total expenditure so far for the 10th NDP to over $5 billion to date.

The minister also highlighted some of the efforts made by the Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE) to ensure the projects are being completed according to schedule, adding that close monitoring of their progress will continue.

JPKE will also continuously assess the suitability of planned projects so that they will be sustainable and effective in realising the socio-economic growth of the country and ensuring that all purchases are made according to the allocated budget.

The 13th LegCo session was adjourned to tomorrow morning, where the members are expected to deliberate on the 10th NDP budget before it is approved.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Brunei's Permanent and Deputy Permanent Secretaries (Updated 18 March 2017)

Two new Permanent Secretary and Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Development has been announced.

+++++

PERMANENT SECRETARIES

Prime Minister's Office (PMO)
Dato Paduka Yahya bin Haji Idris (Corporate Affairs and Civil Service)
Dato Paduka Haji Jamain bin Haji Julaihi (Energy)
Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sulaiman (Economy and Finance)
Dato Paduka Haji Joanda HA Rashid (Law and Welfare)
Pengiran Datin Shazainah bte Pg Dato Paduka Shariffudin (International)*
Md Riza bin Dato Paduka Hj Md Yunos (Media and Cabinet)
Haji Md Azmi bin Haji Hanifah (Industry)

Ministry of Defence (MINDEF)
Capt (Rtd) Abdul Rahman bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar

Ministry of Finance (MOF)
Haji Nazmi bin Haji Mohammad (Management and International)
Ahmaddin bin Haji Abd Rahman (Performance)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT)
Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi
Datin Tan Bee Yong*
Dato Paduka Haji Matnor bin Haji Jeludin
Sheikh Haji Fadilah bin Sheikh Haji Ahmad
Emaleen bte Abdul Rahman Teo*

Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA)
Haji Abd Mutalib bin Pehin Dato Haji Yussof

Ministry of Education (MOE)
Dr. Haji Junaidi bin Haji Abd Rahman (Higher Education)
Dr. Hajah Romaizah binti Haji Mohd Salleh (Core Education)*

Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA)
Dato Seri Setia Haji Abd Aziz bin Orang Kaya Maharaja Lela Haji Md Yusof

Ministry of Development (MOD)
Haji Md Lutfi bin Abdullah (Administration and Finance)
Haji Marzuke bin Haji Mohsin (Technical and Professional)

Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT)
Dr. Haji Abd Manaf bin Haji Metussin

Ministry of Communications (MOC)
Haji Azhar bin Haji Ahmad

Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS)
Datin Paduka Dr. Hajah Norlila binti Dato Paduka Haji Jalil*
Haji Noorjusmin bin Haji Abd Samad

Ministry of Health (MOH)
Haji Zakaria bin Haji Serudin

DEPUTY PERMANENT SECRETARIES

Prime Minister's Office (PMO)
Dr. Hajah May Faezah bte Haji Ahmad Arifin (Economy and Finance)*
Hajah Tutiaty binti Haji Abd Wahab (IT, E-Government and Industry)*

Ministry of Defence (MINDEF)
Capt. (R) Hj Md Amirul Shahnoel bin Hj Md Noeh (Technology)
Pengiran Hajah Zety Sufina bte Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Sani (Finance and Administration)*

Ministry of Finance (MOF)
Pengiran Nirmala binti Pengiran Mohamed (Performance and Compliance)*
Khairuddin bin Abd Hamid (Investment)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT)
Haji Adanan bin Haji Jaafar
Haji Osman bin Haji Mohd Yusof
Haji Mohd Yusra bin Haji Mohd Salleh

Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA)
Haji Idris bin Hj Md Ali
Haji Md Sunadi bin Buntar

Ministry of Education (MOE)
Dr. Haji Azman bin Haji Ahmad

Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA)
Haji Harun bin Haji Juned (Policy and Religion)
Haji Roslan bin Tajaah (Administration and Finance)

Ministry of Development (MOD)
Dr Nor Imtihan bte Haji Abd Razak*

Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT)
Wardi bin Md Ali

Ministry of Communications (MOC)
--Vacant--

Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS)
--Vacant--

Ministry of Health (MOH)
Dr. Hazri bin Haji Kifle
Dr. Hajah Maslinah bte Haji Mohsin*

*Women

Brunei Minister of Communications: MOC Budget for 2017/2018 $122 million


MinCom gets $122M
on: March 17, 2017

| Abdul Hakiim Yakof |

THE Ministry of Communications (MinCom) has been allocated a budget of 122.28 million for the 2017-2018 financial year.

This was announced by the Minister of Communications Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat in his budget speech on the ninth day of the 13th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday.

“Of this allocation, approximately $41 million has been set aside for the payment of staff salaries, $26 million for recurring expenses and $54 million for development expenditure,” he noted.

Although the allocation, particularly in relation to staff salaries and recurring expenses, shows a slight reduction compared to last year, MinCom will be able to meet its goals, notwithstanding the current economic environment, the minister added.

According to him, this reduction also reflects the efforts undertaken by the departments under MinCom so far to save money such as privatisation of services that are not cost-effective among others.

“The Government of 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 has never slacked in providing communication and transport infrastructure and facilities in hopes that this commitment will bring prosperity to the people.

“Through MinCom, the intention of the government is to expand the communications sector and improve the public transport system to make them more sustainable and inclusive for the benefit of all levels of society,” he said.

The minister said that MinCom believes that the government’s effort in providing a communication and public transport system that is efficient and effective will also open up more employment and trade opportunities, which will help boost economic growth and reduce social problems.

“Communications and transportation also contribute to various aspects of development such as education, health, safety, tourism, diplomacy and so on. It is like the veins that supply oxygen and food to the body. Without this supply, the body (body of society) will run out of essential nutrients.”

The minister said that as Brunei Darussalam is faced with the challenges of economic and social development, the role of transport and communications sector cannot be ignored.

“A communication and transportation system that is efficient and effective is a system that links the movement of people and citizens from one destination to another for the purposes of trade, education and so on. A communication and transportation system that is efficient and effective is also a system that offers reliability,” he noted, adding that “MinCom is currently actively implementing the Strategic Plan 2008-2017 towards improving communication and transport sectors”.

The vision of His Majesty for developing the communications and transport sector will contribute to the progress and prosperity of the country, he added.

During the budget speech, the minister highlighted the ministry’s achievements in various sectors such as civil aviation, maritime transportation and information and communication technology, besides detailing its development plans for the future.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Friday, March 17, 2017

Brunei Minister of Health: Budget for Health $323.8 million


$323.8M for health
on: March 16, 2017

| Azaraimy HH |

THE Ministry of Health (MoH) has received a budget allocation of $323.88 million, including $7,766,900 for development expenditure, for the 2017-18 financial year.

This was stated by the Minister of Health YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Zulkarnain bin Haji Hanafi in his opening speech on the eighth day of the 13th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday.

The minister expressed his gratitude to 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 for the allocation and His Majesty’s leadership which gives a high importance to matters concerning health.

Quoting from His Majesty’s titah, the minister said, “Health is the most important factor for all. If the body is healthy, all works can be carried out well. This is the secret or value of health.”

He added, “As it was said during the 12th LegCo session in 2016, the expenditure for the Ministry of Health during the 2015-2020 period is focused on three strategies: Inculcating the idea that health is everyone’s business; preventing and controlling non-communicable diseases; and providing excellent services through consolidation and realignment of healthcare services. The minister said several efforts in line with these three priorities have been implemented including the consolidation of several health centres to provide services on a one-stop centre basis; amalgamation of EMAS (Emergency, Medical and Ambulance Service) with the Department of Fire and Rescue; reducing waiting time for several health services; and establishment of ‘Centre of Excellence’.

He also highlighted international standard recognitions such as ISO 17025 for lab services and the Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation for Pengkalan Batu Health Centre, the first health centre in the country to get the accreditation.

Despite these achievements, the ministry is aware that much still needs to be done and challenges need to be overcome in order to fulfil the expectations of all the stakeholders, he added.

Customer-friendliness, long waiting time at the medicine counters, obtaining treatment at emergency departments as well as shortage of medicines are some of the issues that have been lamented over by the public, the minister said.

He pointed out that the recent meetings held in every district with internal and external stakeholders including members of the Legislative Council focused on seven themes – customer-friendliness, food safety, communication, health promotion, access to services and facilities, medicine retrieval and quality services including provision of appointment system.

Highlighting some of the health studies carried in the country, the minister said the integrated Health Screening 2007-2011 revealed that 70 per cent of the civil servants do not have adequate physical activity. The Global School Health Survey (GSHS) 2014 showed that about 87 per cent of children in the country do not have enough physical activity.

At the same time, the minister pointed out that the incidence of diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes are now occurring at a much younger age of around 20-30 years, adding that “this is an alarming situation”.

Furthermore, the Global Nutrition Report 2016 has placed Brunei Darussalam as having the highest obesity rate among adults in the region. Excessive weight can cause non-communicable diseases such as cancer, coronary ailments, diabetes and stroke – the main causes of death in the country, he noted.

The minister said that the health ministry allocation for 2017-2018 will be used effectively to reduce the high rate of obesity and incidence of non-communicable diseases in the country. Nearly $196 million, or 62 per cent, of the allocation is for secondary and tertiary treatments. This amount does not include the allocation for sending patients to The Brunei Cancer Centre (TBCC), Brunei Neuroscience, Stroke and Rehabilitation Centre (BNSRC) and the Heart Centre at the Gleneagles Jerudong Park Medical Centre (Gleneagles JPMC).

He said the allocation to finance preventive programmes including basic healthcare is only 14 per cent, which is less but it enough to give a big impact, adding that it would be better if we can focus more towards enhancing a healthy lifestyle, ensuring that people will stay healthy for a longer period.

On the other hand, the minister also highlighted that there has been an increase in the number of people who are health conscious and doing physical activities. The National Non-Communicable Diseases Steps Survey 2016 has proved this as it found that the percentage of adults in the country who are physically active has increased from 65 per cent in 2011 to 75 per cent in 2016.

Citing the Bandarku Ceria initiative, the minister said that it is a good example which has proved the efficacy of the whole of nation approach.

He said the government is only a facilitator, while individuals and groups are the drivers to ensure that Bandarku Ceria continues to be successful, promoting a healthy lifestyle.

He also highlighted that changing people’s food habits is the biggest challenge the country is currently facing. On this note, the minister welcomed the Ministry of Finance’s decision to raise excise duties on food products that have high sugar and monosodium glutamate (MSG) content.

The minister urged that all efforts should be taken in inculcating a healthy lifestyle among the people towards achieving Brunei Vision 2035.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Brunei Minister of Culture, Youth & Sports: Budget MCYS $76.3 million


MCYS receives $76.33M budget
on: March 16, 2017

| Rokiah Mahmud |

THE Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) has been allocated a budget of $76.33 million for the financial year 2017-2018, YB Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, announced during his budget speech on the eighth day of the 13th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday.

The allocated budget for the ministry is less than $8.79 million compared to the $85.13 million which the ministry received for the 2016-2017 fiscal.

Despite the cuts, the minister said that MCYS will optimise and prioritise its multi-level mechanism for consultation, coordination, monitoring as well as programme evaluation by establishing more cooperation with other government ministries and departments, non-governmental organisations and the private sector towards achieving a higher level of success.

For the new financial year, he explained that his ministry has prioritised four main areas – culture, youth, sports and community.

In the area of culture, MCYS will strive to further preserve the nation’s culture, history and heritage that are regarded as the pillars of national unity and identity, while in the field of youth, the ministry will focus on enhancing the youth’s self-esteem so that they could be more independent and able to contribute towards the country’s development and well-being, the minister said.For this, the minister said MCYS will carry out more engagement programmes by reaching out to as many youth as possible either through associations, Mukim and Village Consultative Council, schools and higher learning institutions.

In the field of sports, MCYS will provide sports and recreational infrastructure towards creating a healthy and active community, at the same time taking steps to achieving excellence in sports.

Meanwhile, in the area of community, the ministry will be taking initiatives in ensuring the welfare and well-being of the citizens and residents in the country and strengthening family institutions, towards creating unity and peace, he noted.

The minister added that MCYS needs to review and evaluate the progress of initiatives in the culture and arts field so that the efforts in preserving culture and heritage will be more focussed.

These efforts include among others opening up of district museums and improving the content of cultural roadshows held at schools and mukims, the minister pointed out.

As part of the effort in glorifying the Malay Language as the country’s official language, the Language Month programme will be enriched. At the same time, Book Festival Project and Reading Culture Empowerment Carnival will be updated so that the outcome will be more outstanding, he added.

During the deliberation, the minister also explained that the ministry will identify changes needed in the strategies used so that it would be more compatible with the current trends in the area of youth development to nurture today’s youth as future leaders.

In addition, MCYS is drawing up a new assistance programme in empowering the elderly and the disabled in the society. On this note, the minister said that MCYS, through the Social Issue National Council, is currently reviewing the Social Network System based on which the government gives assistance in the form of monthly welfare assistance, old age pension, disability pension and others.

This includes restructuring programmes and projects based on the needs and capabilities of different groups such as persons with disabilities, taking into account the resource position in addressing their issues.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Brunei Minister of Development: Budget $203.4 million for 2017/2018


Ministry of Development gets $203.429M budget
on: March 15, 2017

| Azlan Othman |


THE Ministry of Development (MoD) has been allocated a budget of $203.429 million for the financial year 2017-2018, YB Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Bahrin bin Abdullah, Minister of Development, said during the seventh day of the 13th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday.

This year’s allocation shows a decline of 15.35 per cent, or $31,350,610, compared to the previous fiscal.

Of the total budget, the minister said $102.99 million (50.60 per cent) is for staff salaries and $100.43 million (49.40 per cent) for recurring expenses. Meanwhile, $174.51 million has been earmarked separately for development expenses.

For the financial year 2017-2018, the ministry will continue to focus on customer friendliness, generating income from services and related activities and improving of cash flow management including revenue collection and dues reduction, the minister said.

Emphasis will also be given to increase cost management efficiency, with particular thrust on procurement process according to priority, through more cost-effective measures and organisational streamlining and consolidation; ensuring involvement of the private sector through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in the implementation of projects and services; and corporatisation or privatisation of some of the services at the ministry and departments under it, he explained.These approaches are intended to produce a balanced, cost-effective and sustainable development for the well-being of the people and the country.

This will include the housing assistance programme and the National Housing Scheme to help people who are in need as well as optimal and balanced use of land with a focus on supporting socio-economic activities, he added.

During the budget deliberation, the minister highlighted that the processing of applications will be handled more efficiently to meet the Client’s Charter (TPOR) of the ministry and departments under it and to support the government’s efforts towards improving the country’s standing in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking.

The minister also underscored other areas where his ministry will focus attention on such as implementation of government projects in the form of provision of public facilities that are commercially viable through the PPP mode; improving competency and professionalism among the personnel at the ministry through focused resource management programmes and strengthening the contract management capacity and legal enforcement at the ministry and departments under it.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

HM Sultan Brunei Visits Gurkha Tuker Lines Seria


Great royal welcome
on: March 15, 2017

| Azaraimy HH & Daniel Lim |





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, Minister of Defence and Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces visited the First Battalion of the Royal Gurkha Rifles at Tuker Lines, Seria, yesterday.

The visit marked the end of the battalion’s four-year posting to Brunei and gave its troops an opportunity to thank His Majesty for the excellent four years they have had in the Sultanate.

The First Battalion will be replaced by the Second Battalion in July 2017.

His Majesty arrived at the Brunei Garrison Officers’ Mess via helicopter and upon landing, the monarch was greeted by Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Major General Dato Paduka Seri Mohd Tawih bin Abdullah, Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, and Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Crowe, Commanding Officer of the British Forces Brunei.

Major Shuresh Thapa MVO welcomed His Majesty in the traditional Gurkha way by placing a garland of regimental colours over His Majesty’s shoulders.

The monarch was then escorted into the Officers’ Mess and welcomed by a guard of honour formed up in the garden of the mess overlooking the South China Sea which was commanded by Captain Ganesh Kumar Gurung.

Following this, His Majesty consented to commission three Warrant Officers as Captain. They are Warrant Officer Class 1, Regimental Sergeant Major Bahadur Buddha Magar, Warrant Officer Class 2 Bel Bahadur Gurung and Warrant Officer Class 2 Simon Macey.

The monarch was then briefed in the dining room by the Commanding Officer for the battalion’s training, operations and activities for the last four years since His Majesty’s last visit in 2013.

His Majesty then watched a capability demonstration of a company raid operation conducted by members of the battalion’s rifle companies and weapon platoons including the Reconnaissance Platoon, Snipers, Mortar Platoon, Machine Gun Platoon and Anti-Tank Platoon.

His Majesty witnessed the operation unfold on the ground and the troops move onto the beach and out into the sea in rigid inflatable boats provided by the Garrison Boat Section.

The ruler was also briefed on the all-terrain quad bike and had the opportunity to test-drive it on the beach.

His Majesty then moved to the Chit Chat Community Centre where a combined performance by the first and third battalions of the Royal Gurkha Rifles and Royal Brunei Armed Forces Pipes and Drums Team welcomed the monarch.

His Majesty was also greeted by five young girls in traditional Nepali dress, who welcomed the monarch in traditional Nepali ritual known as ‘Pancha Kanya’, a mythological act in which the five young girls represent five goddesses. According to Nepali belief, each goddess represents the core values truth, right conduct, love, peace and non-violence.

During the event, the girls introduced themselves to His Majesty and offered their welcome.

The Sultan then moved into the community centre and mingled with the staff and pupils from Hornbill School and also viewed a display of children’s art before watching the Hornbill African Drumming Team perform a beginner’s counting rhythm routine for His Majesty.

Following this, His Majesty met with members of the Army Welfare Service team who briefed the monarch on their roles and activities and explained the function and purpose of the Chit Chat Community Centre.

His Majesty was then invited to see a display of traditional Gurkha cooking where the monarch took time to mingle with the families of the battalion members and have the opportunity to sample some of the Gurkha delicacies.

His Majesty then watched a short cultural programme including traditional Nepali dances performed by the family members of the troopers.

Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Crowe thanked His Majesty for his continued support to the regiment and made a presentation to mark the end of the battalion’s tenure in Brunei. It was a large piece of marble carved and gilded with the Royal Gurkha Rifles’ Cap Badge as well as an inscription of its regimental motto underneath in Malay which reads – ‘It is better to die than be a coward’.

His Majesty then received three cheers from all ranks in the British Forces Brunei before the monarch boarded a vehicle to the Medicina Lines helicopter base, from where he departed for Bandar Seri Begawan by the royal flight.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Brunei Minister Primary Resources & Tourism: Budget $51.54 million


MPRT sees major leap
on: March 12, 2017

| Rokiah Mahmud |




THE Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) has been allocated a budget of $51.54 million for the 2017-2018 financial year.

This was announced by YB Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong, the Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism, during his budget deliberation on the fifth day of the 13th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday.

He said that his ministry is trying to intensify the diversification of the country’s primary resources to boost their contribution to the national gross domestic product (GDP) as well as efforts in creating new employment opportunities as part of the ministry’s Strategic Plan 2016–2020.

Highlighting the plan, the minister said that the MPRT’s vision is ‘Towards Rapid Growth in the output of Primary Resources and Tourism – to contribute towards economic growth in order to realise the Brunei Vision 2035’.

Despite the lower oil price that has impacted global economy including Brunei Darussalam, he assured that the ministry will continue efforts in line with its vision.

By promoting domestic and foreign investment, increasing productivity through the use of modern technology and focusing on the export market, it is hoped that the five-year plan can meet the key performance indicators (KPIs) set by the ministry, the minister added.

The strategic plan envisages more than tripling the value of output from the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sector to B$1.80 billion by 2020 from B$510 million in 2015.

This means that the sector’s contribution to GDP will increase from less than $200 million in 2015 to around one billion by 2020 which will see a four to five per cent growth in GDP compared to one per cent in 2015.

The minister added that with diversification of the country’s economy, the primary resources and tourism sectors are expected to generate up to 4,000 new employment opportunities.

According to the minister, to further enhance economic growth, the MPRT will intensify efforts by encouraging local and foreign investors to participate in development projects through Public-Private Partnership (PPP), reducing dependency on government’s financial resources.

In line with this, the ministry has offered comprehensive or semi-comprehensive agricultural development areas called Agriculture Development Area (KKP) for interested farmers. These areas include Tungku Agriculture Development Area (KKP Tungku), KKP Kilanas, KKP Batang Mitus and KKP Birau.

In the aquaculture sector, the ministry has offered several fish farming sites at Kampong Sungai Paku, Kampong Keramut and Sungai Penyatang in Tutong District; and Pengkalan Sibabau, Kampong Serasa and Kampong Meragang in Brunei-Muara District. They will focus on hatchery and nursery activities for fish and prawn farming.

While Tanjong Pelumpong in the Kuala Sungai Brunei and Pilong-Pilongan island are focussed on various types of caged fish, Sungai Jambu in Kampong Katok is for ornamental fish farming and vertical fish farming.

As of now, some 23 agriculture, fishery and tourism projects have been tendered through Request for Proposals (RFPs) and interested investors or entrepreneurs can still submit their business plans.

On this note, the minister said a number of projects have already been offered to successful applicants and they are expected to begin exporting their products by this year. However, some of the projects are still in evaluation stage while some are still being tendered.

He added that qualified and selected foreign investors will be mandated to invest in identified areas after attaining support from the foreign direct investment (FDI) Committee.

The minister said several FDI and joint-venture projects have been developed in further boosting the country’s economy. Among them, Hiseaton Fisheries (B) Sdn Bhd has acquired a 2,000-hectare site in Pilong-Pilongan island for caged farming of pompano fish and already commenced operations. The company is expected to produce 20,000 metric tonnes of pompano worth B$105 million annually by 2020.

The KR Apollo Sdn Bhd has been offered a 12-hectare site in Sungai Jambu in Kampong Katok to farm ornamental fish and food-fish. With the use of vertical farming technology, the company is expected to export produce worth $35 million by 2020.

Syarikat Nur Nabai Sdn Bhd has been tendered for growing grouper fish in Tanjong Pelumpong and it is expected to produce 5,000 metric tonnes of fish worth $35 million annually by year 2020.

Golden Corporation has acquired a 200-hectare site in Sungai Penyatang, Tutong to farm organic blue shrimp and it expects to produce up to 4,500 metric tonnes of fish worth B$48 million by 2020.

Yamako Pacific (B) Sdn Bhd has been permitted to operate a processing plant for tuna fish which will be exported to Japan. The project involves six fishing fleets in the Zone 4 site. The company has targeted about 10,000 metric tonnes of tuna and about 3,6000 metric tonnes of processed tuna fish which is expected to rake in B$100 million annually by 2020.

The minister said the MPRT needs cooperation from all relevant stakeholders, particularly farmers and entrepreneurs from the tourism industries, in increasing production to meet the export targets.

He advised farmers to facilitate their farming with the use of modern technology so that they would be able to boost productivity, depending less on government subsidies.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Friday, March 10, 2017

Brunei Minister of Home Affairs: Ministry's Budget 2017/2018 $131.7 Million


MoHA gets B$131.7M budget
on: March 10, 2017

| Rokiah Mahmud |
 
THE Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) has been allocated a budget of B$131.7 million for the 2017-2018 financial year.

In his budget deliberation on the fourth day of the 13th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday, the Minister of Home Affairs, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong, elaborated the main challenges that need to be addressed including the country’s slow economic growth.

The minister explained that in the new budget B$94.84 million has been allocated for salary payments B$36.86 million for annual recurring expenses.

According to the minister, the main challenges that need to be tackled by the ministry include ensuring effective services to the public according to their current needs and being customer friendly and efficient.

He said that in line with the concept of performance budgeting, the ministry and departments under it has formulated strategies to strengthen the country’s solidarity by acting as a socio-economic catalyst, enhancing security and well-being of citizens.

The budget will also take care of the projects aimed at the well-being of the community in line with the Brunei Vision 2035 under the Institutional Development Strategy which is entrusted with the MoHA under the KPI 2.11 to elevate people’s solidarity.

The minister shared that the budget will also be channelled to empower the penghulu mukim and village head institutions, develop municipalities and create a more conducive business infrastructure.

Moreover, in supporting and achieving the Brunei Vision 2035, the ministry has also implemented various strategies and will continue to carry out initiatives to improve ease of doing business and create a pro-business environment in the country.

Towards this, the minister said his ministry has made several policy changes and is continuously cooperating with various government agencies and other stake holders.

As an example, he cited the ‘One Village, One Product’ (1K1P) initiative as having a massive potential in further boosting the country’s socio-economic development.

Until January 2017, a total of 73 villages in the country have set up own 1K1P projects with 201 products registered under the programme.

The minister assured that the ministry will continue to cooperate with other ministries and stakeholders in getting Halal certification, tourism package recognition, specialist services as well as agriculture and fisheries technology so that the 1K1P projects will be capable of penetrating both local and international markets.

This initiative will not only enhance the community’s innovation and creativity through manufacturing of products but also empower the solidarity and integration within the community through economic activities.

Explaining the works scope and responsibilities of the MoHA, the minister pointed out that ensuring the safety and well-being of the citizens and residents is vital.

During the budget deliberation, he voiced out the ministry’s continuous cooperation with other stakeholders – be it government agencies, private sector or non-governmental organisations – in together monitoring programmes and initiatives that are aimed at safeguarding the peace of the nation.

According to the minister, in the context of raising preparedness at the national level and educating people on the safety and security of the society, the ministry is using the latest technology such as mobile applications Basic Guide and Public Safety

Through these applications users can learn about the procedures in providing emergency assistance, actions that can be taken during emergencies and to protect against terrorist threats, he noted.

In addition, to further ensure the society’s well-being and safety, a Beach Safety Council has been set up to disseminate safety information. The council comprises several ministries and non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) such as the Beach Bunch.

To ensure emergency operation preparedness, the ministry through the Fire and Rescue Department and Ministry of Health has introduced the EMAS services, an integrated ambulance programme for fire stations which has been launched at the Berakas, Rimba, Jerudong, Pengkalan Batu fire stations since November 1, 2016.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Brunei Minister of Education: Ministry of Education Budget 2017/2018 $666.5 Million


B$666.5M allocated to MoE
on: March 10, 2017

| Danial Norjidi |


THE Ministry of Education (MoE) will have a budget of B$666.57 million for the 2017-2018 financial year.

This was announced yesterday by YB Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman, the Minister of Education while delivering a speech during the fourth day of the 13th Legislative Council (LegCo) session.

The minister expressed his gratitude to the government for the trust and support in providing MoE with a budget of B$666.57 million for the 2017-2018 financial year.

He shared that, from the ministry’s budget, B$498.79 million has been allocated for staff wages, while B$167.78 million is for recurring expenses, and B$19.82 million for development expenditure.

In the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the MoE had received an allocation of $726.65 million.

“The MoE will ensure that all its plans are actionable and realistic, as well as cost-effective, so that all issues can be handled in an effective way through a delivery approach to achieve the desired outcomes,” said the minister.

He affirmed that the MoE will strive to ensure that this budget is used well while being prudent in spending, in line with needs and priorities.

The ministry, as the lead agency in developing and shaping human resources, will continue to support the goal of realising Brunei Vision 2035, especially in producing citizens who are educated and highly skilled, he said.

The minister touched on the National Education System for the 21st Century (SPN21), which he said is designed with the intention to equip the people of this country with the knowledge, skills and attitude as well as values that are appropriate for facing the requirements of this century.

SPN21, he continued, is now in its eight year of implementation and has undergone multiple changes and positive achievements which include, among others, the opening up of opportunities for multiple pathways in education, strengthened technical and vocational education, the establishment of the Brunei Darussalam Teachers’ Academy (BDTA) to improve the professionalism of teachers and instructors, implementation of Brunei Teachers’ Standards (BTS), implementation of the Literacy and Numeracy Standard, improving school ecosystems and infrastructure that supports 21st Century teaching and learning as well as the improvement of evaluation systems and so on.

He shared that to realise SPN21, the MoE has from time to time drawn up strategic plans that contain a number of initiatives in five key areas that have key performance indicators and targets.

These areas are: the quality of teachers; quality of schools and educational institutions; student achievement and success; participation in education; and the quality of post-secondary education.

In addition to the aforementioned key areas, the MoE also plans improvements in the following: professional development at every level; quality leadership at every level; quality teaching and learning; and emphasis on health, safety, security and environment at every level.

“Towards producing a teaching workforce that is able to deliver holistic education to produce successful students who will be able to meet the country’s need for dynamic and sustainable development, MoE is actively implementing continuous professional development through the BDTA.

“This initiative aims to improve the knowledge and skills of teachers to enrich the students with the knowledge and skills of the 21st Century.

“A Teachers Professional Development Framework is also being implemented as a professional teacher development programme in a more systematic way to create and enhance the effectiveness of Professional Learning Communities development efforts among teachers and school leaders.”

He then touched on the Literacy and Numeracy Coaching Programme, which he said is an initiative to make systemic improvements in the quality of teaching and learning of literacy and numeracy in schools.

This initiative engages the services of professional development experts as well as experts on teaching literacy and numeracy as the main agent of change.

Its main objective is to produce quality teaching of English Language and Mathematics by effectively using the best pedagogical practices to produce students who have high literacy and numeracy skills.

The minister also noted that MoE together with the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) has established School Standards to ensure a higher learning environment that supports teaching and learning excellence by ensuring systematic and balanced development.

“Through these School Standards, various methods will be developed by schools to improve school effectiveness by carrying out strategies that can improve the quality of teaching and learning, and improve the quality of human resources at their respective schools.

“We should be grateful for the facilities that continue to be provided for students, including educational services, bus transportation services, school meal plans, boarding facilities, scholarships both in the country and abroad, including the Miftahun Najah Assistance Scheme for students from less fortunate families and so on.”

He highlighted that with their provision, the MoE will continue to strive to improve the quality and productivity of educational services through various initiatives and at the same time optimise existing resources.

“These austerity measures are a good opportunity for the MoE to review expenses to avoid wastage and services that are not productive or do not generate value for money.”

The ministry also recognises the importance of reflecting on and evaluating the efforts that have been carried out over the years.

He shared, “Through this self-reflection process, it has been realised that not all the initiatives conducted have been fruitful or fulfilled their intended targets, and there also ones that are less resilient because of not being monitored well.

“Thus, MoE needs to make a number of changes, specifically by ensuring: enhancing the internal system to be more efficient; high quality leadership at all levels; a process of change that is more thorough and organised to be more efficient and of quality; and most importantly is the ability of the MoE in ensuring that the teaching and learning carried out at are of truly high quality.”

The minister said that, in this regard, MoE is continuously reviewing SPN21 for improvements and progress enhancement, in line with developments at a national level as well as globally.

One initiative that is being undertaken is that of Dialogic Teaching and Learning, which he explained the means of using the power of speaking or dialogue between teachers and students, and developing their learning and understanding.

“Learning through dialogue not only leads to content knowledge but also better thinking skills,” he said.

“This is in line with the aspirations of SPN21 which aims to foster and generate a set of abilities and skills such as communication skills, thinking skills, problem solving, self-management and competitive skills, which will lead to the development of high order thinking skills.”

He shared that the MoE will also continue to cooperate closely with other ministries and government agencies as well as the private sector in undertaking initiatives related to education and the formation of human resources.

As an example, he shared that, in knowing the needs and demands of work and the shape of skills that are required for each profession, MoE has collaborated with the Manpower Policy and Planning Unit (MPPU), Prime Minister’s Office and various stakeholders such as the FDI Action and Support Centre (FAST) and industry members including micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

“Through this demand-driven approach, the MoE will be able to ensure the kinds of courses and levels of courses conducted are always relevant, balanced and have curriculum content that is in line with meeting the marketability needs of students and graduates of educational institutions.”

He highlighted that, at the same time, the MoE also gives full support to any efforts by other ministries and agencies towards strengthening human resource capacity, such as the ‘I-RDY’ apprenticeship Programme.

The minister said that the MoE has responded well to this programme, which is considered to add value to graduates of higher education institutions, strengthening their capacity, applying their knowledge and enhance their skills.

“MoE will ensure that the study programmes offered at public institutions of higher learning and the ‘I-RDY’ programme will have synergy in producing high calibre, knowledgeable and highly skilled citizens,” he added.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

HM Sultan Brunei Laments Students' Low Proficiency in Quran Reading


Sultan laments students’ low proficiency in Quran reading
on: March 10, 2017

| Hakim Hayat |



THE level of Al-Quran reading proficiency and precision in carrying out prayers among students in the country is indicating a worrying trend, 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 said.

In light of this, constant review and monitoring of religious education at religious and public schools are needed to ensure its effectiveness, His Majesty said in a titah delivered on the occasion of the finals of National Al-Quran Reading Competition for Adults 1438 Hijrah/2017 held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Berakas last evening.

Citing a study initiated by His Majesty himself and carried out by the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) and Ministry of Education (MoE) last year for students at all levels of education, the monarch highlighted that about 81 per cent of students are not carrying out prayers consistently while four per cent have not carried out any form of prayers.

His Majesty went on to note that in Al-Quran reading section of the study, it was found that only 41 per cent reads the Al-Quran consistently, while 65 per cent of the respondents felt that they are inept at reading Al-Quran with the right form of Tajwid (the correct pronounciation).

“These statistics demonstrate that the subject matter of prayers and Al-Quran must be given attention,” added His Majesty, while noting that the prevailing weakness in the areas must have stemmed from ineffective teaching and supervision methods.

“This is inevitable, if teachers are weak and the system is disparate, of course, students will also follow heed,” the monarch said, urging that the matter, especially regarding teachers and the system, should be looked into, instead of blaming the students.

With the government’s compulsory Religious Education Order in force, His Majesty said this policy has been welcomed by parents, and now the public, especially parents, are very passionate about religious education; apart from enrolling their children in religious school, some parents are utilising private tutors to supplement their children’s Al-Quran and prayer proficiencies.

His Majesty, however, cautioned the public and relevant authorities that they must ensure that the private tutors, whether they are religious teachers or those holding any other special positions, must have credentials to teach Al-Quran from the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB). “This is in line with the stipulated laws. It is not just to guarantee the quality of teaching, but also to monitor the authenticity of religious teaching, in line with the country’s understanding and practices,” His Majesty added.

On the matter of the lack of praying habit among students, His Majesty said this must not be taken lightly but must be collectively handled by the relevant agencies including the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.

In the titah, His Majesty also highlighted the lack of appreciation shown by certain people in the community on religious obligations like prayers, citing that some parties, whether in the government or private sector, would organise programmes or events without taking into account the need for their participants to perform the prayer. His Majesty said that these participants are usually students, the youth and also others.

The monarch warned that this practice must not continue. “Appreciate the fact that performing the prayer is ‘Fardu Ain’ or compulsory to be carried out when it is time. Any programme or event should not be an excuse to neglect the prayer,” he added.

Earlier, His Majesty praised the increasing number of the youth taking part in such competitions at all levels and said their enthusiasm in learning Al-Quran and taking it to the next level is commendable.

The monarch also advised that to enable improvements in Al-Quran reading, the country must have a facility to enable people to learn Al-Quran reading with the “Tarannum” (melody intonation).

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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

Permanent and Deputy Permanent Secretaries (Updated 9 March 2017)

Permanent Secretaries and Deputies in Brunei Government
(Updated 9 March 2017) as announced:



+++++

PERMANENT SECRETARIES

Prime Minister's Office (PMO)
Dato Paduka Yahya bin Haji Idris (Corporate Affairs and Civil Service)
Dato Paduka Haji Jamain bin Haji Julaihi (Energy)
Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sulaiman (Economy and Finance)
Dato Paduka Haji Joanda HA Rashid (Law and Welfare)
Pengiran Datin Shazainah bte Pg Dato Paduka Shariffudin (International)*
Md Riza bin Dato Paduka Hj Md Yunos (Media and Cabinet)
Haji Md Azmi bin Haji Hanifah (Industry)

Ministry of Defence (MINDEF)
Capt (Rtd) Abdul Rahman bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar

Ministry of Finance (MOF)
Haji Nazmi bin Haji Mohammad (Management and International)
Ahmaddin bin Haji Abd Rahman (Performance)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT)
Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi
Datin Tan Bee Yong*
Dato Paduka Haji Matnor bin Haji Jeludin
Sheikh Haji Fadilah bin Sheikh Haji Ahmad
Emaleen bte Abdul Rahman Teo*

Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA)
Haji Abd Mutalib bin Pehin Dato Haji Yussof

Ministry of Education (MOE)
Dr. Haji Junaidi bin Haji Abd Rahman (Higher Education)
Dr. Hajah Romaizah binti Haji Mohd Salleh (Core Education)*

Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA)
Dato Seri Setia Haji Abd Aziz bin Orang Kaya Maharaja Lela Haji Md Yusof

Ministry of Development (MOD)
Haji Md Lutfi bin Abdullah (Administration and Finance)

Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT)
Dr. Haji Abd Manaf bin Haji Metussin

Ministry of Communications (MOC)
Haji Azhar bin Haji Ahmad

Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS)
Datin Paduka Dr. Hajah Norlila binti Dato Paduka Haji Jalil*
Haji Noorjusmin bin Haji Abd Samad

Ministry of Health (MOH)
Haji Zakaria bin Haji Serudin

DEPUTY PERMANENT SECRETARIES

Prime Minister's Office (PMO)
Dr. Hajah May Faezah bte Haji Ahmad Arifin (Economy and Finance)*
Hajah Tutiaty binti Haji Abd Wahab (IT, E-Government and Industry)*

Ministry of Defence (MINDEF)
Capt. (R) Hj Md Amirul Shahnoel bin Hj Md Noeh (Technology)
Pengiran Hajah Zety Sufina bte Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Sani (Finance and Administration)*

Ministry of Finance (MOF)
Pengiran Nirmala binti Pengiran Mohamed (Performance and Compliance)*
Khairuddin bin Abd Hamid (Investment)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT)
Haji Adanan bin Haji Jaafar
Haji Osman bin Haji Mohd Yusof
Haji Mohd Yusra bin Haji Mohd Salleh

Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA)
Haji Idris bin Hj Md Ali
Haji Md Sunadi bin Buntar

Ministry of Education (MOE)
Dr. Haji Azman bin Haji Ahmad

Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA)
Haji Harun bin Haji Juned (Policy and Religion)
Haji Roslan bin Tajaah (Administration and Finance)

Ministry of Development (MOD)
Haji Marzuke bin Haji Mohsin

Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT)
Wardi bin Md Ali

Ministry of Communications (MOC)
--Vacant--

Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS)
--Vacant--

Ministry of Health (MOH)
Dr. Hazri bin Haji Kifle
Dr. Hajah Maslinah bte Haji Mohsin*

*Women

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Brunei Foreign Minister II: Focus on Tackling Global Challenges


Tackling global challenges prime focus
on: March 09, 2017

| Azlan Othman |


THE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is faced with challenges in maintaining peace, stability and economic development in the Asia-Pacific region, said YB Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, the Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II, during his introductory speech on the third day of the 13th Legislative Council session.

“These challenges include relations with major powers; the role of Asean in international relations; climate change; disaster management; pandemic diseases; and technology in terms of the fourth industrial revolution, which is occurring globally and has influenced our way of life and thinking. It has certainly required us to be in step with the reality of ever-changing technology,” said the minister.

“In view of the developments in other countries, I believe that the current challenge lies in preparing the present and future generations to be ready for this new reality; and to ensure that our citizens are able to face daily challenges while staying relevant in today’s world.

“The present world is borderless, and we need to change our way of thinking to see it as an opportunity for reaping benefits instead of being an obstacle,” YB Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng said.

On the subject of Brunei’s foreign policy, the minister said, “The country will continue to practise positive foreign policy based on the principles of friendship, mutual respect, equality and non-interference, to ensure that our sovereignty is respected and the country’s interests are upheld.“Principles such as the peaceful resolution of conflicts and free trade will form the basis of our foreign policy; and it is consistent with the values of Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB), namely friendship, tolerance, a caring society and compassion.

“These policies have contributed to the country’s security, prosperity and continuing development, which have gained us respect from other nations. To date, we have established diplomatic ties with 170 countries and have 43 foreign missions. We have worked together and strengthened our sovereignty on the world stage.”

The minister also stated that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade would continue to cooperate with other agencies in coordinating bilateral trade on a regional and international basis. This, he said, would be achieved by opening up the market for local businesses, while promoting free trade and attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs) into Brunei.

“My ministry fully supports the efforts of the Energy and Industry Department at the Prime Minister’s Office in diversifying the economy towards more dynamic and sustainable economy,” he said, adding, “These efforts will provide incentives and opportunities for local entrepreneurs to compete with one another, while nurturing innovation through exposure to the international market.”

A total of B$107,692,930 has been allocated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as to overseas foreign missions, for the 2017-2018 financial year.

“This budget will assist in upholding the country’s interests and security in terms of foreign policy; and in enhancing and identifying cooperation for mutual benefit, while raising the country’s international image,” said YB Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Brunei Energy Minister: Oil & Gas Reserves To Rise

Brunei Oil & Gas Reserves Increase by 94 million barrels in 2016.
Expanding Life Span of Reserves to 53 years
Large Scale Solar Project To be Launched in Temburong

+++++

Oil & gas reserves rise
on: March 09, 2017

| Azlan Othman |


THE country’s oil production this year is estimated to be at 134,000 barrels per day compared to last year’s 139,000 barrels, YB Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar, Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office, said yesterday.

The decline is partly due to the natural dwindling of resources, suspension and deferment of production and the country’s commitment to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), he said in his preamble speech before discussing the budget under his ministry, on the third day of the 13th Legislative Council (LegCo) session.

In 2016, the oil and gas sector managed to increase the total resources and reserves by 94 million barrel of oil equivalent (BOE), expanding the lifespan of oil and gas reserves to 53 years, the minister said.

“The main role of the energy sector is to ensure that the hydrocarbon treasures of the nation are developed sustainably.”

Regarding the renewable energy sources, the minister revealed that a large-scale solar project will be launched in the Temburong District to replace power generators that operate on diesel at the Belingus Power Station in Temburong. The project will be completed in the first quarter of 2018 and will see an energy saving of 23 per cent in the first phase.

Touching on electricity, the minister said several initiatives have been undertaken to improve its reliability, reducing electricity interruptions by 67 per cent since 2010.

Since the introduction of the housing tariff reforms in 2011, energy consumption has decreased by 12 per cent. Electricity saving practices also continued where government buildings have achieved savings of B$16 million a year. Electricity dues have also decreased by 13 per cent since November 2015.

The minister also said that the Department of Electrical Services (DES) is planning to privatise the generation and transmission sector through the transfer of assets to Darussalam Assets. minister said that governing of the cooperatives has become less effective, adding that only 69 out of the 161 cooperatives under the ministry are still active, while the rest remains inactive but still has members who hold share capital.

In 2017, the government will focus on improving the governance of cooperatives and developing them to become competitive at the international level. It plans to do so by introducing a Code of Practice, holding financial health clinics and training programmes on basic skills beginning March 2017 as well as encouraging cooperatives to engage in export-oriented industries such as stingless bee keeping and aquaculture.

To address the development of micro SMEs, DARe (Darussalam Enterprise) has conducted several capacity building programmes for entre-preneurs through the Industry Business Academy (IBA), the Start-up Bootcamp and the Microcredit Financing Scheme since October 2016.

According to the minister, in 2017, the focus will be to strengthen the ecosystem of micro SMEs as detailed by 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, in his budget speech on Tuesday.

Speaking on the e-Government National Centre (eGNC), the minister said it also has improved services and common government infrastructure whereby the use of the One Government Network (OGN) has cut spending by 33.6 per cent and the One Government Private Cloud service has cut costs by up to 42.38 per cent.

At the same time, efforts are being made for capacity building of the local Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry. The Local Business Development (LBD) policy which came into force on March 1 is expected to generate at least 25 IT projects each year. The LBD has seen an improvement in the oil and gas sector where local content expenditure has increased by 40 per cent from 2010 to 2016 since the issuance of directives on Local Business I and II.

On employment opportunities, the minister said that so far, 12,966 jobseekers are registered with the JobCentre Brunei system. Of this, 1,562 job-seeking graduates will be assisted through the I-RDY Apprenticeship Programme, while the rest will be absorbed through the Start-up Bootcamp to venture into entrepreneurship.

For non-graduate jobseekers, some 4,000 positions are targeted through succession planning and as much as 3,000 positions are targeted through the Industry Competency Framework (ICF) programme.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Brunei Finance Minister II: Brunei Government Subsidies To Stay

Total Subsidies Given By Government:
Rice and Sugar = $12 million to $20 million annually
Petrol = $397 million (2012/13), $380 million (2013/14), $328 million (2014/15)
Electricity = $48 million (2011/12), $97 million (2013/14)

++++

Subsidies to stay, but prudence advised
on: March 09, 2017

| Rokiah Mahmud |


MILLIONS of dollars worth of subsidies have been apportioned by the government throughout the years and the welfare of Brunei’s peoples is well taken care of.

This was the message 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 was trying to get across during the third day of the 13th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday.

The government subsidy issue was one of the matters raised during the session by LegCo member YB Haji Abdul Hamid @ Sabli bin Haji Arshad.

Citing some examples, the minister said that rice and sugar supplies are subsidised between $12 million to $20 million annually, while electricity is subsidised up to an estimated $48 million for the 2011-12 fiscal year. In the 2013-14 financial year, electricity subsidies rose to $97 million, before new tariff rates were introduced.

Petrol subsidies, meanwhile, are based on the prevailing oil prices, according to the minister, who pointed out that subsidies are raised in accordance with increase in oil prices. The minister gave a few examples: During the budget allocation for 2012-13, the petrol subsidy was $397 million; in 2013-14 it was $380 million; and in 2014-15 $328 million.

In the 2015-16 national budget, due to the global oil price decline, the petrol subsidy allocated by the government amounted to just $160 million.

Touching on government subsidies for the National Housing Scheme (RPN) and the Landless Indigenous Citizens Housing Scheme (STKRJ), the minister explained that the government has offered affordable, cost-subsidised housing – priced between $41,000 to $70,000 – for Brunei citizens (similar houses would normally cost up to B$100,000 to construct).

The minister urged the country’s citizens to practise prudent spending and be thankful for the subsidies that have been provisioned by the government.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Brunei Ministry of Defence Budget 2017/2018 $451 million


Defence budget drops 20pc to B$451Mon: March 09, 2017

| Azlan Othman |

THE Ministry of Defence (MinDef) has been allocated a proposed budget of B$451.79 million for the 2017-18 financial year, which is a decline of 20 per cent, or B$112.86 million, from the previous fiscals allocation.

In his preamble on the proposed budget for the MinDef on the third day of the 13th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday, the Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance II, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim revealed that the new budget figure comprises salary payments totalling B$288.23 million and other annual recurring expenses totalling B$163.55 million.

Touching on the focus and priorities of the MinDef, the minister spelt out four key areas. Firstly, to take the best viable approach to increase the effectiveness in coordinating the MinDef’s strategy to improve the safeguarding of issues of national interest such as protecting the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, economic prosperity, social welfare and national philosophy, as well as contributing to regional and global peace.

The second focus is to improve the level of preparedness in terms of military capacity to ensure national security. To this end, advance planning in the aspects of logistics, training, assets and military equipment, infrastructure support, as well as psychological and mental health support to army personnel will be given pressing attention.

The third priority is to increase defence diplomacy through MoUs, exchange of visits, military trainings, exchange of intelligence, the appointment of Attaché/Defence Counsel as well as conducting trainings and courses at the national, regional and international levels to prevent security threats which are increasingly complex and challenging, especially cross-border threats.

The minister gave examples such as the involvement of the nation as the host of military exercises under the framework of the Asean Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) and the ADMM-Plus, which not only serve to strengthen the concept of interoperability between the armies of Asean and its dialogue partners in addressing security threats, but also raise the profile of the nation in promoting confidence-building and regional integration, thereby upholding the country’s commitment towards regional and international cooperation.The fourth focus of the MinDef is to strengthen the solid partnership with local agencies in support of each other’s capabilities in every mission to uphold 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’s aspiration of seeing improvements in the ‘Whole of Nation’ approach between the government and relevant stakeholders.

Such cooperation, among others, has been realised through the National Security Committee in various fields, including prevention of terrorism, maritime security, natural disasters and cyber security.

The minister said that this focus will take into account the challenges and understanding of the concept of security threats which has changed in the era of globalisation and deepening inter-nation integration.

All this has brought about a dynamic security environment and new spectrum of threats which now not only include traditional threats, but also non-traditional ones.

In this context, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman also said that the use of assets optimally and effectively will become a catalyst for the achievement of priorities of the MinDef.

These include addressing the strength of military capabilities, where coordination will continue to be implemented over management framework resources to improve the ministry’s capabilities more holistically, systematically and proactively.

The minister also said that to ensure the maintenance of assets and coordination of logistics support is sustainable and effective, initiatives and studies have been introduced, such as the business process reengineering of some supply chain management procedures, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) – which can be extended to industries and capable local companies and support network builder and the Original Equipment Manufacturer through the Public-Private Sector Partnership.

In addition, the replacement of the Defence Logistics Information System with a new one will also be prioritised as a major catalyst for improving effectiveness in the maintenance of assets.

In monitoring performance assets, the MinDef has also used a Balanced Scorecard with Operational Key Performance Indicator to monitor the maintenance of operating assets so that they are at a high-preparedness level.

To improve asset management – taking into account the rate of obsolescence

with the rapid development of technology in the field of defence – the MinDef has taken a “smart buyer” approach to the purchase of defence technology. This is to support the ministry’s missions with appropriate military technology while maintaining sustainability and effectiveness in the supply chain process.

To increase the capacity and productivity of manpower resources, skilled, dynamic and constantly-improving human capital is required.

To achieve this, the MinDef is providing a framework for human resources to put in place initiatives to increase the competency of each army personnel – civilian or non-civilian – and proper succession planning.

Speaking on the need for prudent spending of the new government budget, the minister said that the MinDef is also implementing new cost-saving approaches such as the establishment of a Saving Taskforce – a continuation of its efforts in ensuring continued prudent spending and reducing wastage across all levels of operations throughout the ministry.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Brunei Budget 2017/2018 - B$5.3 billion


B$5.3 billion budget
on: March 08, 2017

| Azaraimy HH |

BRUNEI will see a B$300 million fall in budgetary spending in the financial year 2017-2018 compared to the previous fiscal.

A national budget of B$5.3 billion for the new fiscal year was proposed by 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, on the second day of the 13th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday.

The proposed government spending is a record low as dwindling energy prices weigh on Brunei’s oil and gas-based economy.

This year’s proposed spending is lower than the B$5.6 billion budget for the 2016-2017 financial year, which was lower than the 2015-2016 spending of B$6.3 billion, and this was in turn less than the previous year’s figure of B$7.3 billion.

Meanwhile, the expected government income for the financial year 2017-2018 is projected to be B$3.45 billion. The projection has taken into account a revenue of B$2.509 billion from the oil and gas sector and B$941.33 million from the non-oil and gas sector which is 27.3 per cent of the total revenue.

This means that the country’s fiscal deficit will hit B$1.85 billion in the new fiscal, way below the deficit the country experienced last year.

“Alhamdulillah, we are thankful to Allah the Almighty for his blessings, and under the leadership of 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 country is still able to handle the challenges of continuous economic slowdown and falling government income, and the welfare of the people in the country are always given the priority,” the minister said in his budget speech.

The country’s economic growth is projected to be 0.8 per cent for 2017, the minister said, quoting figures from the Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE).

The projection takes into account the projects that are currently being undertaken such as for strengthening the integrity of assets in the oil and gas sector and the ongoing FDI programmes. In the short-term and medium-term, the nation’s economic growth will continue to depend on the level of the nation’s oil and gas production, the global oil market and economic situation. Whereas, investments and productivity of private sector is expected to grow further, the minister noted.

The minister also shared the steps that are currently being initiated and planned by the government in facing the challenges, strengthening the economy and ensuring the welfare of the people in the country.

During the nearly one-and-half hour budget speech, the minister explained that in this period of economic challenges, the government has prioritised its spending. “It is hoped that with the various initiatives undertaken, the government’s objective to expand the nation’s economic activities and income sources and create more job opportunities for locals in a sustainable way can be achieved more effectively.

“The continuously low global oil price has significantly impacted the nation’s economy. In terms of gross national income at constant prices, the national economy is expected to fall 2.7 per cent in 2016. The nation’s exports and imports were also affected. In 2016, exports fell 22.7 per cent to B$6.74 billion compared to B$8.71 billion in 2015. Whereas, the nation’s imports declined 17.1 per cent to B$3.69 billion compared to B$4.45 billion in 2015. The situation has affected the government’s fiscal position.”

The minister said the country recorded a high deficit level of 15.4 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), or B$2.6 billion, for the financial year 2015-2016, adding even though a high level of budget deficit was recorded, the government successfully managed to bring down spending by 13 per cent to B$6.3 billion compared to B$7.3 billion in the year previous year.

Similarly, in the first nine months of the 2016-2017 financial year, the fiscal deficit was B$2.5 billion as a result of a 36.4 per cent or B$1.4 billion fall in government income from the oil and gas sector.

The government spending during this period stands at B$4.4 billion.

Even amid the negative national GDP growth in 2016, several sectors actually recorded positive growth. Among them is the financial sector which recorded a growth of 8.8 per cent; electricity and water sector 4.3 per cent; domestic services sector 8.8 per cent; property and housing sector 1.8 per cent; hotel and restaurant sector 1.3 per cent; and communications sector 0.3 per cent.

In the third quarter of 2016, the total assets and deposits of banks recorded an increase of 6.6 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively year on year, whereas currency in circulation grew 1.7 per cent year on year, reflecting continuous demand from the business sector.

Touching on the global oil market, the minister said since early 2017, the price of oil has risen slowly following the decision by OPEC and non-OPEC countries to cut oil production by 1.2 million barrels a day. Nonetheless, the oil prices continue to show volatility.

Oil prices are influenced by external factors such as the movement of US dollar, the concern over global oil producers’ commitment to cut oil production, and most recently, reports about an increase in shale oil production in the United States, among others.

The International Monetary Fund has estimated the average price of UK Brent Oil, Dubai Fateh and West Texas Intermediate at $51.20 a barrel in 2017 and $53.10 a barrel in 2018. Even though these oil prices are expected to stabilise, it will still be at a lower rate compared to the price of $100 a barrel three years ago.

According to the minister, what is certain is that as an oil producer, Brunei’s economy will continue to be influenced by global oil price movements.

“To support the effort to stabilise the global oil price, Brunei Darussalam, together with 10 other non-OPEC countries have agreed to participate in an OPEC/non-OPEC Joint Declaration last December 2016. Through this cooperation, the country has agreed to adjust the nation’s crude oil production starting January 1, 2017 for six months, which can be extended to another six months, depending on market situation and current prospects.

The minister also noted that the government will continue to take steps to control spending so that the nation’s income will be utilised to develop its economy in the long term.

Towards this, fiscal consolidation’ and fiscal sustainability will continue to be the fulcrum of the government’s financial management.

In the budget speech, the minister also announced that in line with the effort to transform the nation’s national expenditure system, as a continuation to the introduction of Programme and Performance Budgeting (PPB) for the 2016-2017 budget, the government will carry out another change starting April 1, 2017, whereby the ordinary expenditure will be combined with the national development programme expenditure, and the special expenditure category will be ended. Combining the two is expected to increase efficiency and effectiveness in the distribution and monitoring process of government allocation, especially spending on operational and non-operational expenditure.

“Taking into account the fiscal position of the country that is facing the challenge of a high deficit for the financial year 2016-2017, the government will continue to actively increase efforts in reducing the level of deficit in its spending.

“This step is aimed to create enough ‘fiscal space’, so the government expenditure can be channelled towards supporting the economic activities that have been identified. The aim of this programme is in line and in tandem with the policy to diversify the nation’s economic sources, by building a strong, large and sustainable economy,” the minister said.

Taking into account these goals, the minister said the theme of the proposed budget for the financial year 2017-2018 is ‘Balance Spending to Support Sustainable Economic Development’.

The stress on balanced spending is aimed to preserve the nation’s financial integrity from being affected by the current and future economic uncertainties.

In implementing this year’s expenditure based on the theme, efforts to develop the non-oil and gas private sector will continue to be a priority, the minister added.

Various initiatives have been undertaken by relevant government agencies to achieve the objectives mentioned above. These include attracting foreign direct investment (FDI); intensifying the development of Government-Linked Companies (GLCs); strengthening micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs); assessing regulations to be updated to further boost ease of doing business, he noted, adding that through these efforts, the nation’s production and exports can be increased, especially from the non-oil and gas sector.

“Based on the factors mentioned above, the expected government expenditure for the financial year 2017-2018, including the allocation for development funds, is proposed to be a total of B$5,300,000,000. This sum takes into account the projection of government income for the financial year in line with the efforts in managing the spending deficit.”

The minister highlighted that the proposed spending is still much higher compared to the expected government income. With the fiscal balance for the financial year 2017-2018 expected to experience deficit for the fourth consecutive year, other than steps that are being taken to control government spending, efforts to increase government income must also be increased.

To support the theme of the 2016-2017 budget, the priority of government expenditure is based on five main focuses: Prudent spending; increasing national productivity; enhancing ease of doing business; building capacity and human capital; and preserving the welfare of the people.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin