Working on frontliners’ special allowance: Minister

Azlan Othman

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 said frontliners will know in due course about the special allowance that 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 announced in a titah last Monday.

The BND400 monthly allowance incentive recognises the frontliners’ sacrifices and commitment amid this crisis.

“We thank His Majesty for such gesture and appreciation for frontliners’ contribution,” Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said at a press conference yesterday.

The special titah, broadcasted on Radio Television Brunei (RTB) from Istana Nurul Iman was His Majesty’s second address to the nation since the COVID-19 outbreak in Brunei was first reported on March 9.

His Majesty said that the BND400 allowance will be granted to doctors, nurses, paramedics, ambulance drivers, volunteers, cleaners, security guards and all those working with the Ministry of Health (MoH), especially at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital, National Isolation Centre (NIC) in Tutong and also government-designated quarantine centres.

The monthly special allowance comes into effect March 2020 and will be extended until the eradication of COVID-19 in Brunei, His Majesty added.

In the titah, His Majesty also announced that groups whose income are affected by the pandemic such as tamu traders, sellers at markets, taxi drivers and water-taxi drivers will also be given assistance that will be coordinated by the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) of the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Meanwhile, the minister said, vendors who were denied a refund from organisers of cancelled Ramadhan events can lodge a complaint to the Department of Economic Planning and Statistics (JPES) of the Ministry of Finance and Economy through its Competition and Consumer Affairs or via Darussalam hotline 123. Complaints can also be forwarded through the ‘Pengguna Bijak’ (Smart Consumer) app.

The government has allocated an annual fund for disease outbreaks and to date, BND15 million meant for the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) have been spent, the minister said.

“The fund was used not only to build the additional National Isolation Centre which houses over 170 beds, but for future use in the case of Artificial Intelligence”, the minister said.