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 stated that the annual Legislative Council (LegCo) session is in need of more empowerment, while urging the appointed LegCo members to express their views without hesitation.
In a titah at the official opening of the 16th LegCo session yesterday, His Majesty said, “We have high hopes for the Legislative Council as a strategic platform for the consideration and deliberation of issues that are crucial for the citizens and the country.
“All ideas or deliberations need to be based on careful thought and research, supported by accurate facts and focussing only on relevant issues.
“It has come to my notice that the Legislative Council is in need of more empowerment. Most of the appointed members tend to raise more questions, instead of giving ideas. This causes the deliberations to be less interesting.
Touching on the current economic uncertainty, His Majesty nevertheless said, “Alhamdulillah, our country is still able to record an encouraging economic growth, apart from enjoying reforms in terms of infrastructure and policies.
“This uncertainty is further exacerbated by continuing geopolitical tensions and the startling, adverse effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the world’s financial markets, particularly in the Asian region. The outbreak has hindered the economic growth and development of many countries, resulting in a reduction in demand for the world’s oil and gas, automatically causing the prices of these two commodities to drop.
“This can lead to our country experiencing a deficit, after recording an excess in fiscal balance for the Financial Year of 2018/2019.
“Throughout 2019, my government made several significant achievements, including the transformation of the telecommunications sector which is capable of enhancing innovation for change on the nation’s economic landscape towards the digital era and the 4th Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0), through the establishment of Unified National Networks Sdn Bhd, which is wholly owned by my government.
“On the subject of human resources, I have given my consent for the Manpower Planning and Employment Council (MPEC) to be placed at the Prime Minister’s Office, for the cogitation of effective methods towards raising employment opportunities and tackling unemployment issues.
“It is also important to review current policies, such as those related to the recruitment of foreign workers; obstacles or processes that can prevent the business community from expansion; conducting training to help job hunters, reviewing the syllabuses for training programmes; and reviewing the processes to expedite the filling of vacancies in civil services and others.
“I also gave my consent to the establishment of the Temburong District Development Authority (AKDT), for the purpose of generating economic activities and upgrading the living quality of the citizens and residents in the district.”
The monarch then touched on the rising government expenditure over the years and called on all agencies to be sparing in the use of the allocated budget. “It must be remembered that large revenues are not necessarily capable of securing financial stability or strength, if they are not managed properly and efficiently.
“With prudent practice and efforts to diversify the economy, Insya Allah, our country can reinforce the stabilisation of the micro-economy and the nation’s financial standings.
“In this regard, it is important to remind that when using the government budget, it must be with transparency and trust. The fact that this is government expenditure does not mean that it can be used up for unimportant projects, or on large expenses, or when the big budget involves ‘back-door’ drama between certain parties outside of the government.
“It is especially regrettable that when the project is carried out under weak supervision, it ends up with plenty of defects or shortfalls upon completion. Why is this so? Firstly, it is due to weak supervision. Secondly, when weak supervision occurs, then embezzlement is bound to take place, such as the use of cheap or poor quality materials.
“With this, I call on the appointed council members to give voice to their opinions without any reserve. Their voices are needed for the common good.”