With unemployment continuing to be a main social issue in the country, 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 that public-private sector cooperation is crucial towards resolving the problem.
His Majesty made the statement in a titah to mark the New Year 2020, which was broadcast yesterday evening on Radio Television Brunei (RTB).
The monarch said, “I have given my consent for the establishment of the Manpower Planning and Employment Council (MPEC) at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), for the efficient, transparent and effective management of unemployment issues.
“This includes promoting cooperation between industries and educational institutions, to ensure that local graduates from universities and institutes of technical education are employable.”
His Majesty also cautioned jobseekers against being too particular about employment in industries or private companies, and also advised local entrepreneurs to avoid the practice of letting foreigners run their businesses.
On welfare, His Majesty said, “Regarding the Monthly Welfare Assistance (BKB) Programme, opportunities are provided to the recipients who are able-bodied and able to work, through means of guidance and entrepreneurial support for those keen on venturing into entrepreneurship. This is hoped to enable them to become more economically independent, rather than relying on government assistance.”
His Majesty also noted that “Brunei Darussalam is not left behind in terms of developments in the digital era, which is correlated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where technologies such as Edge, Cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Extended Reality will steer the digital industry transformation”.
On Brunei’s economic performance, His Majesty said, “Alhamdulillah, Brunei Darussalam continues to maintain and strengthen its economy, while also being ready to face any situations, including challenges brought about by external factors. Political stability must also continue to be of great relevance, to attract more foreign direct investments (FDIs) into this country.
“In our efforts to boost the economy, particularly in the food security sector, my government, through a joint venture between Darussalam Assets Sdn Bhd and the relevant ministries, has commenced the cultivation of the Sembada paddy seed variety on a commercial scale at a 500-hectare land in the Belait District. It is my hope that this will be followed with fruit farming, to allow us to become self-sustainable, at the very least; and a commodity export product for Brunei Darussalam in the long term.”
His Majesty also announced that Brunei is currently exploring the Blue Economy Initiative. “Brunei has vast marine resources that have not been explored in the best possible way. This is an opportunity to boost economic growth and create more job opportunities for locals.
“In that respect, all relevant parties should explore the potential of developing ‘Green Energy’ programmes or initiatives, to preserve and protect our environment in the long run.
“Meanwhile, the public, students, private sector and NGOs are required to work together with government agencies in mutually resolving the issues and causes of environmental pollution.”
On the international arena, His Majesty announced that Brunei would be assuming the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2021 and said, “We will continue to nurture and strengthen cooperation with friendly nations and our ASEAN partners. We must take advantage of opportunities available to achieve mutual economic, social, culture, technical, scientific and administration stability and development.”
The monarch also mentioned Brunei’s performance in the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in the Philippines, and commended the national athletes for their accomplishments, “These achievements can be used as a benchmark that the performances of our athletes have improved since our first participation in 1977.”
Earlier in the titah, His Majesty highlighted the importance of peace and harmony for the country‘s development, “Without these, development would be inhibited, and even plans and efforts to realise the goals of our Vision would also be affected. Such is the value of peace.
“With that, I call on all citizens and residents to come together in maintaining the peace and harmony, without any distinction.”
His Majesty also extended his acknowledgement to all civil servants, as well those employed in the private sector and uniformed institutions for all their hard work and commitment throughout 2019.
In wishing a happy new year for the people of Brunei, the monarch said, “May Allah the Almighty constantly shower us with His blessings, and make Brunei a peaceful and harmonious country under His protection.”