Over BND113M budget for MFA

Rokiah Mahmud

A budget of BND113,904,600 has been proposed for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) for the new Financial Year 2020/2021, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs II Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof at the fourth day of the 16th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday.

The minister said the budget will be used for payroll and recurring expenses. While he did not table the breakdowns of budget allocation, he did say that the money will also be used to fund MFA’s tasks aimed at empowering the country’s foreign policies and its capacity as a facilitator as well as deepening bilateral ties with other countries.

He added that through the Whole of Nation approach, which encourages collaboration between ministries and related agencies, MFA has been able to continue preserving and advancing the country’s interests.

“Among others are ensuring the sovereignty of the monarch and our country and preserving the identity of Brunei Darussalam in terms of politics, culture and religion while encouraging regional and international peace, stability and prosperity,” Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan said.

He added that the ministry will continue to practise principles that are in line with the national philosophy of Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB), such as forging stronger ties with countries, ensuring equality in all nations and upholding its non-interference policy. Such a positive foreign policy, the minister said, has been carried out by the Sultanate to maintain close relations with other nations while preserving the good image of the country.

It is made possible with the country’s bilateral and multilateral approaches of conducting and receiving state visits, attending international meetings and cooperating with regional and international organisations.

He said such a commitment to foreign policy has enabled the country to acquire capability and expertise through its involvement in initiatives run by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Commonwealth, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), while paving the way for more trade opportunities and investments not limited to MFA but also other government agencies and the private sector.

The minister shared that through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its dialogue partners, funds have been set up for joint exercises aimed at enhancing understanding, capability and expertise between nations while allowing economic opportunities among its member states.

He added that it is crucial for the Sultanate to continuously strengthen its diplomatic relations and cooperation with other countries, especially in the midst of geopolitical uncertainties, geo-economical instability, crude oil production disputes, trade wars, the pandemic of COVID-19, threats of climate change, and terrorism.

Minister of Foreign Affairs II Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof. PHOTO: RAHWANI ZAHARI