ADB report highlights Sultanate’s achievements

|     Azlan Othman     |

BRUNEI Darussalam has shown marked improvement in terms of economic, financial, social, health and environmental achievements for the 48 regional members of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which revealed its new ‘Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2018’ report on September 10.

On environment, the figures showed the Sultanate among the four regional economies within the World Health Organization’s (WHO) standards of low pollution levels of 5.8 microgrammes per cubic metre.

The other three economies are Maldives (7.7), New Zealand (5.8) and Australia (7.3).

Out of 43 reporting economies, 19 were affected by pollution in cities, stemming from fine particulate matter above twice the suggested maximum level set by the WHO.

The concentration of people living in finite spaces, coupled with high and rising vehicle ownership in urban areas, can result in pollution of the surrounding environment.

Air quality is generally monitored by the levels of fine particulate matter equal to 2.5 microns in diameter or less, or the levels of fine particulates together with coarse particles (between 2.5 microns and 10.0 microns).

As a share of domestic energy use, Timor-Leste (1,737.5 per cent), Brunei Darussalam (490.4 per cent), and Azerbaijan (310.0 per cent) led all economies in energy exports.

Brunei Darussalam, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia are three economies whose exports are dominated by natural resource-based products.

All three are highly forward-linked in Global Value Chains (GVCs) through their supply of intermediates to downstream processes.

In 2000-2015, Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) decreased in 39 of 43 reporting economies across Asia and the Pacific.

Economies with fewer than 25 maternal deaths, per 100,000 live births in 2015, included Brunei Darussalam.

Since 2005, starting a business has become much easier, as measured by the number of days required to do so in most developing ADB member economies.

Reforms that lowered regulatory costs and simplified compliance procedures had the most impact on reducing the time needed to start a business.

From 2005 to 2017, the number of days required to start a business fell in 34 of 40 developing member economies.

During the review period, Timor-Leste led the way in terms of reducing the time required to start a business (from 167 days to nine days), followed by Indonesia (from 164 days to 23 days), and Brunei Darussalam (from 108 days in 2010 to 13 days last year).

Online business registration, having a one-stop shop for business startup permits, and reduced minimum capital requirements are among the reforms that can expediate the business startup process.

From 2016 to 2017, the most common types of business startup reforms were those that reduced the complexity and cost of regulatory processes and accessing credit.

The Corruption Perceptions Index has improved from 41st globally in 2016, to 32nd position last year.

In the report, ADB said that Asia and the Pacific accounts for a growing share of global gross domestic product (GDP), while the region continues to make progress to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These statistics reveal a region whose share of global GDP continues to increase, growing from 30.1 per cent in 2000 to 42.6 per cent in 2017 (at 2011 purchasing power parity), and whose labour force is steadily shifting away from agriculture towards employment in industry and services. At the same time, the region’s economies continue to strengthen their participation in trade and global value chains.

“Statistics clearly show that Asia and the Pacific continues to make solid progress in reducing poverty, improving its social and physical infrastructure, and increasing its participation in global production networks,” said ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada.

“However, the region’s development agenda is still unfinished, and better data is crucial for helping policymakers identify priority areas and implement successful interventions.

The Key Indicators 2018 can help decision-makers by bringing together a wide variety of statistics, and highlighting data gaps that need to be bridged.”