Levy on foreign workers amid low oil prices

Brunei Darussalam is going through tough times amid the COVID-19 pandemic; there is a need to balance the country’s budget around low oil prices and expand its fiscal capacity in preparation for a post-oil economy.

In light of these pressing issues, I believe it best that we follow the model of levy on expats and immigrants, as adopted by a number of countries. We can do the same, by implementing a tax of BND35 per month on each foreign worker.

According to the Labour Force Survey in 2017, there were 47,490 foreign workers across numerous sectors in the country. If Brunei were to implement the levy, the government could potentially raise estimated revenues of BND20 million per year. In 10 years, that would be BND200 million for the country, which could strengthen institutions that needed funding.

While it would take a lot of hard work to ensure the extra revenues be spent wisely, we have untapped talents that could be utilised to build the national fiscal capacity. In any case, I believe that the introduction of a levy on foreign workers would be beneficial to Brunei in a post-oil economy.

Awang McArthur