Brunei to digitise National Welfare System

Izah Azahari

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 consented to the collaboration of relevant ministries in developing a digitalised National Welfare System (SKN).

The SKN will be launched in July, as stated in a special titah delivered by His Majesty on April 13.

This was revealed by 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 during a press conference at the Ministry of Health (MoH) building yesterday.

“His Majesty is aware that there are many in the community who are still in need of assistance from the government, both before and subsequent to the COVID-19 outbreak,” he said.

“As stated by His Majesty, this system will make it easier for applicants to apply to the government, Insya Allah. The Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE), together with the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA), the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS), the Ministry of Education (MoE), and Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah – by the consent of His Majesty – are pleased to announce that starting on July 15, 2020, SKN will available to those who wish to apply for the Monthly Welfare Assistance (BKB) run by the MCYS and the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) Zakat Asnaf Fakir Miskin Fund.”

The minister also said that those currently registered with Community Development Department (JAPEM) and MUIB may also use the system to update their information from the same date, when the SKN will be made accessible through the website.

“At this stage, online applications are only open to the citizens and residents of Brunei Darussalam who intend to apply for the ‘Monthly Welfare Assistance’ scheme managed by JAPEM, MCYS and MUIB,” he said.

“Other benefits may be requested in the usual manner from JAPEM and MUIB. Insya Allah, the application for such assistance will be available online, once the SKN is upgraded in stages.”

“Furthermore, the system developed for the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Economy and other agencies such as the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Education, is aimed at aligning the process of providing assistance managed by these agencies, where in addition to this initiative, it will enhance cooperation in information-sharing through the establishment of a centralised database that can be used to enhance the effectiveness of aid programmes provided in the country, making sure that assistance is provided to those who truly deserve it.

“At the same time, it would also help the government make more transparent and clear assessments, and ensure that there are no omissions (ketirisan) and negligence in the distribution of aid.”

The minister also explained that the SKN will use a National Criteria as a baseline to align and calculate those who are eligible for the relevant assistance, including the aligning of the Minimal Cost of Basic Necessities (KMKA) usage and calculation procedures to assess each applicant’s poverty level.

He also announced that an appointment will be made for penghulus and village heads throughout all districts starting today, with letters of invitation issued to them by the Ministry of Home Affairs, for the purpose of attending a roadshow on the topic of the SKN.

In the Brunei-Muara District, the roadshow will be held at the Theatre Hall of the Ministry of Finance and Economy from today to June 25. In the Belait District, the roadshow will be held at the Kuala Belait Convention Centre on June 30.

In the Tutong District, the roadshow will be held on July 1, at the Main Hall of the Tutong District Civic Centre Complex, while the Temburong District will host it on July 2, at the Community Hall of the Temburong District Office.

All roadshows will take place from 8.30-10.30am, and 1.30-3.30pm.

“Given the current situation of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Health’s guidelines require attendees to scan the QR code through the BruHealth app,” said the minister.

“Penghulus and village heads are advised to update the information in their BruHealth application before attending the intended roadshow.

“It is hoped that all penghulus and village heads will arrive at the date and time specified in the invitation letter issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs,” he added.