Striking balanced budget is key

Azlan Othman

In a bid to boost economic growth, it is imperative that the government continues to put forward initiatives that will strike a balanced budget.

This was highlighted by Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Yang Berhormat Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah in a budget deliberation session for the financial year of 2020/2021 during the third day of the 16th Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting yesterday.

Brunei’s revenue stream is less tied to its gross domestic product (GDP), the minister said, unlike other countries with more diversified sources of revenue, such as income tax, goods and services tax (GST) and property tax.

He said the Government will continue to implement initiatives under the Fiscal Consolidation Programme, which was introduced to ministries during the 2018/2019 financial year, adding that THE outcome of each initiative may only have an impact on the fiscal position over the next few years.

So far, several projects are in the pipeline, including corporatisation of governmental departments, such as the Government Printing Department and the Postal Services Department, and the full privatisation of pilotage services entering the Muara Port.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Yang Berhormat Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah speaks at the 16th Legislative Council (LegCo) Meeting. PHOTO: BAHIYAH BAKIR
Brunei’s revenue stream is less tied to its growth domestic products (GDP), unlike other countries with more diversified sources of revenue. PHOTO: HAJI MOHAMMAD YUSOP BIN MOHAMMAD YASSIN

In addition, 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 consented to the establishment of P Cube Sdn Bhd (P Cube) on May 14, 2019 as a subsidiary of the Brunei Economic Development Board (LKEB) to review the recommendations of the public-private partnership (PPP), including implementing projects or government assets that have the potential of benefitting from the PPP.

Taking into account the current economic situation of the country, which is facing a number of challenges, such as high unemployment rate, growth that is yet to be stable compared to neighbouring countries, and low exports from non- oil and gas sector, a 15-year Brunei Darussalam Economic Blueprint (2020 to 2035) will be published.

The blueprint is a plan of action that will complement efforts to achieve the Brunei Vision 2035, in particular the third goal of “Dynamic and Resilient Economy”. It will take into account other initiatives and plans available such as the Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam Financial Sector Blueprint and the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025.

The Sultanate is also committed to achieving its objectives, identified under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in which a total of 17 achievements or sustainable development goals (SDGs) recognised and agreed upon by all member nations of the United Nations (UN) such as eradicating poverty, generating sustainable economic growth, preserving and improving the environment, and addressing climate change issues.

In efforts to achieve the country’s development, the Government acknowledges that the people are an important asset and will continue to invest in the welfare of the people through quality education and healthcare services.

To show its commitment to SDGs, Brunei Darussalam will for the first time join a Voluntary National Review (VNR) session at the United Nations High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which will be held this July at the UN headquarters in the United States.

In preparation for the upcoming event, VNR workshops were held in January, with the aim of improving the understanding of the parties of interest, not only among government agencies, but also members of the non-government organisations (NGOs).