No border re-opening for now

Izah Azahari

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 the implementation of the Exit and Entry Charges Order, 2020 or Caj Perkhidmatan (CaP) on August 1 is not related to the re-opening of Brunei’s borders, as believed by some members of the public.

“There were roadshows recently held in all four districts, where the Ministry of Finance and Economy informed the public about the intention of these charges,” he said during the press conference at the Ministry of Health (MoH) on Wednesday.

“So it’s not about whether we are ready to open up our borders, but as we have said many times already, before we open up our borders, there is a lot of consideration that we need to take. CaP has nothing to do with it.”

The minister was asked whether interim measures introduced by the Brunei Government, through the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, would be extended.

He said, “These measures comprise of fiscal measures, monetary measures and the like, whereby the monetary measures such as deferment of loans and principal repayment would be applicable for one whole year. “Some of the fiscal measures introduced are for a duration of six months, which expires at the end of September this year.

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. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR

“Currently, we are in July. With the announcement of further de-escalation plans, a lot of businesses are going back to normal, but our ministry will continue to monitor the situation.”

In the aspect of employment for fresh graduates amid the pandemic, Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said, “Although it has affected the employment situation in the country, it has not necessarily affected the number of jobs overall, as many businesses are operating almost close to normal.

“What we have seen through JobCentre Brunei from January until today is that we have created 3,300 new jobs. There’s a bit of a shift from some other jobs, especially during COVID-19, as some may not be necessary – for example, in the tourism sector where they will probably move to other jobs.”

He said some sectors are hiring more workers, while others are reducing the number of manpower, saying, “Out of the 3,300 new jobs, 1,500 individuals were hired, while the remaining 1,800 are still going through the interview process with the intention of short-cutting the process to get the people hired as quickly as possible.

“We are also actively approaching companies to encourage them to hire locals. Some of them have actually responded positively to our phone calls, so I think we have to look at the overall situation rather than maybe only a few sectors.”