Influx of foreign nationals monopolising businesses in the Sultanate and a rising number of unemployed locals were among the topics raised by members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) during the second day of their 16th session yesterday.
Yang Berhormat Awang Haji Mohimin bin Haji Johari @ Johari lamented over foreign nationals, who wholly own and run convenient shops in villages, are making millions of dollars a month.
“They use local business licences. It is high time for such businesses to be monopolised by Bruneians”, who he believed to serve as “sleeping partners” in these partnerships. Instead, he called for more monitoring of these businesses to curb malpractices.
He also suggested that foreign nationals, who wish to set up a business in the country, to inject hundreds of thousands of dollars from their homelands.
Yang Berhormat Haji Mohimin added that the Registry of Companies and Business Names (ROCBN) should have regulations to discourage foreign nationals, who seek to register a business under their own name, from hiring their relatives from overseas.
He also urged for Class 1 and 2 building contractor licences to be issued only to locals.
“Sadly, it is run by foreign nationals, due to the failure to monitor and prevent such situation from taking place. Same goes for Class 3 licences, which should also be for local contractors only.”
Meanwhile, Yang Berhormat Awang Haji Ramli bin Haji Lahit said policies pertaining to overseas recruitment should be looked at more closely as it affects the prospect of local job seekers.
He added, “It does not mean barring foreigners from working here. However, they should give locals the opportunity to hold a higher position upon completion of their contract instead of passing it to the next foreign worker.”
Similarly, Yang Berhormat Awang Naim bin Haji Kamis believed old policies need to be reviewed and urged for the tightening of the labour and immigration laws when it comes to recruitment of foreign nationals.
He also called for visa and work permit fees to be raised as well as minimum wage for locals to be introduced to encourage them to stay in the private sector.
He said the guidelines for construction projects should be reviewed to ensure that these undertakings were seen to completion by a consultant.
In light of rising unemployment among local youths, several members of the LegCo saw the need to assist them through various channels.
Yang Berhormat Awang Haji Ramli called on the Manpower Planning and Employment Council (MPEC) to introduce training to nurture the spirit of entrepreneurship at school level, thus equipping them with the know-how to start a business, which leads to job creation.
He also urged for JobCentre Brunei to be more involved by sending a representative to job interviews with locals to ensure that these job vacancies really exist as over 6,000 jobs posted through the JobCentre Brunei portal but only one-third are filled.
He believed the government should offer assistance and support to small entrepreneurs through training and education.
This sentiment was shared by Yang Berhormat Awang Haji Mohimin, who believed that the youth should be encouraged to be more entrepreneurial via business start-up loan schemes and business courses.
Meanwhile, Yang Berhormat Pengiran Haji Ali bin Pengiran Maon said training should start at an early age to prepare locals for the job market.
He also believed that employers should be given incentives to hire locals, especially when the company recruits a local in place of an outgoing foreign worker.