| Azlan Othman |
THE Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) has managed to attract 11 more foreign direct investment (FDI) projects estimated at about $6.9 billion in manufacturing, agriculture, logistics, pharmacy and aquaculture, which are either in their implementation stage or awaiting final approval from the government, the Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Chairman of BEDB said yesterday.
Dato Paduka Awg Hj Ali bin Hj Apong said, in total, these projects are expected to generate 2,462 jobs and 1,785 of those will be filled by locals. He revealed this to members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) who visited Design & Technology Building at the BEDB’s Anggerek Desa Technology Park.
He added, “As of today, BEDB has successfully implemented four FDI projects worth nearly $1 billion, which are currently in operation in the Sultanate.”
These companies are Simpor Pharma Sdn Bhd, CAE Brunei MPTC Sdn Bhd, Brunei Methanol Company Sdn Bhd and Goldcoin (B) Sdn Bhd. In total, these projects have generated 484 jobs and 82 per cent of them are taken up by locals.
The FDI projects in the implementation stage include Dongyang Gangchul Co Ltd (Korea) in manufacturing with an investment of $133,500,000; HLDS (B) Steel Sdn Bhd (China) also in manufacturing – $62,500,000; Golden Corporation (Taiwan) in aquaculture – $55,000,000; Amann Shipping Sdn Bhd (Hong Kong) in logistics – $32,500,000; MC Biotech Sdn Bhd (Japan) in pharmacy – $19,000,000; Hengyi Industries Sdn Bhd (China) in oil and gas downstream – $5,000,000,000; and Brunei Fertilizer Industries Sdn Bhd (Turkey) in downstream – $1,625,000,000.
Projects awaiting final approval from the government include SC Tubular Sdn Bhd (Japan) in manufacturing and processing – $62,500,000; United Agri-Fishery Market Sdn Bhd (Taiwan) in agriculture – $17,000,000, Algaetech Sdn Bhd (Malaysia) in aquaculture – $10,000,000 and Apollo Aquarium Pte Ltd (Singapore) in aquaculture – $5,000,000.
FDI has been identified as the catalyst that facilitates the process of economic growth and helps create new industries and provides opportunities for knowledge sharing and technology transfer. FDI also provides employment opportunities for locals and spin-off for local businesses.
The Legislative Council members were also briefed on the proactive steps taken by the BEDB, like the Enterprise 100 Transformation programme. It comprises six stages, providing assistance to promising local companies and help them achieve continuous and sustainable growth with a vision to become multi-national companies.
The goal of the programme is to build a core group of companies capable of contributing a cumulative revenue of $1 billion within five to 10 years.
Under the transformation programme, the BEDB will undertake a business gap analysis on the participating company and a benchmarking exercise by comparing it to a similar public listed company within the same industry to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses and work closely with the company to overcome any weaknesses.
In nurturing the participating companies to increase their growth, the BEDB will introduce investment or venture capital and the necessary know-how required for the company to develop into a multinational firm and achieve annual revenue of at least $100 million.
Encouragingly, from the nine companies, one oil and gas services company is currently in stage 5 of transformation programme and one of the food and beverage companies is in stage 4, whilst the remaining seven are in the various stages of transformation ranging from stage 1 to stage 3.
The Legislative Council members toured knowledge-based enterprises under the BEDB being developed at the iCentre and Knowledge Hub. At the iCentre, the LegCo members were introduced to several start-up incubatees, which included fledgling entrepreneurs like DotRoot Technologies, TrueVector Designs, Kin-ethics and Tyne Solutions.
The iCentre is a facility that incubates technology-based start-up companies and some of the activities that are conducted there include mobile, web, GPS, RFID, smart technology, apps development and multimedia.
At the Knowledge Hub, which is a facility that houses companies involved in research and development activities, the LegCo members were brought to the Creative Arts Facilities (CRAFT) and the Brunei Solutions Development Centre (BSDC). CRAFT is a physical laboratory that provides members of the public hardware, software and rendering facilities to produce animation and visual effects.
CRAFT is one of the many initiatives carried out by the BEDB and is in collaboration with SIDE Effects Asia Pacific (Houdini Software) and Autodesk (Maya Software) to provide multimedia workshops for aspiring young Bruneian animators.
BSDC is a joint project between e-Government National Centre (EGNC) and Microsoft and is a software development facility that aims to help build capability to develop ‘Made-in-Brunei’ software solutions. BSDC trains students and IT companies in software development. The products from BSDC are then deployed to a number of government projects.