Minister outlines government’s spending to tackle COVID-19

Rokiah Mahmud

The amount spent by the Brunei Government in addressing the COVID-19 outbreak was outlined at the daily press conference held at the Ministry of Health (MoH) yesterday.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah explained, “At the moment, the government’s major concern is to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak, and my ministry has been working closely with the Ministry of Health to address the problem.”

He added, “If the COVID-19 issue continues to affect us, it would cause the government to spend more.

“So, in terms of the amount spent, we are able to manage the situations much better than many other countries. This is actually rewarding, but what we want to make sure is whatever we have spent we also ensure to serve better for the future.”

“For example, we invested on an artificial intelligence (AI) system, which not only allows us to deal with COVID-19, but also enables the Ministry of Health to better manage the country’s entire healthcare system.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah. PHOTO: AZIZ IDRIS

“Once the country is free from COVID-19, our ministry will still have to look at the country’s fiscal budget, as the oil prices continue to stay low, and how we can manage all this by going forward.”

Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew also urged the public to take advantage of the training sessions being provided by the government. “If they can find or have better jobs, it would gradually lower the government’s burdens,” he said.

“Similarly, if the Ministry of Health can better manage the country’s healthcare, it could actually reduce the amount of the budget allocated for healthcare.

“The government’s investment on UNN (Unified National Networks) resulted in a lower cost of telecommunications in the country, as well as benefits for the future.

“The same holds true for measures that the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) are working closely on, by encouraging people to take up farming activities. Hopefully, this strategy will result in increased vegetable production and less reliance on imports.

“So, we are using this crisis to try and create what is hoped to eventually reduce our budget requirements, regardless of the strategy will be successful or otherwise.

“But then again, it also depends on cooperation from the public, as we still require them to practise social distancing, with no mass gatherings and so on,” he said.