Thursday, June 20, 2024
25 C
Brunei Town

All roads lead to ATMs

Izah Azahari

With the year-end bonus out for civil servants, lines of people were seen queueing at ATMs and banks, dozens of cars filling up the roads and making way to the malls for last minute shopping to prepare for the upcoming New Year’s Eve gatherings or stocking up on school supplies ahead of the new academic year.

While thankful for the bonus by the Government of 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, a government officer lament-ed to the Bulletin that he would be spending his bonus on his children’s schooling necessities before spending on other needs.

“I also have other savings for emergencies such as vehicle breakdowns. It’s good that the extra income can be shared with parents to reap blessings and to spend according to our financial abilities,” said he added. However, even with the incentives given, he believes people need to spend prudently.

Touching on the re-opening of international borders, he said many have chosen to go abroad for a change of scenery.

He noted that authorities may need to figure out how to get more people to spend domestically such as increasing the number of holiday spots at reasonable prices.

Retail shop assistant Jay said the management has launched a year-end sale in anticipation of the bonus.

“Since the re-opening of the borders last August, there has been a decrease in sales. To counter the decline in revenue, our management has brought in new products of quality in to meet customers’ expectations. We hope people will spend within the country,” said Jay.

People queueing for the ATMs. PHOTOS: ADIB NOOR
Cars stuck in traffic at a commercial area

Meanwhile, contracted worker Lilly Mohammad, 60, said her bonus is not as much as it once was. Nonetheless, she plans to spend it on her grandchildren’s school supplies and assist whoever else she can.

“I believe that it’s always important to help people in need, especially those who are struggling financially, in whatever way we can for us to be able to reap blessings from assisting them without asking for anything in return,” Lilly said.

Elly Azhar and Amzar Ibrahim, both 36, shared that they mostly plan on saving the money, especially for a rainy day.

“I do plan on getting a laptop for work. But other than that, I will definitely be shopping in the country to help support local businesses and the economy, even though I feel that some items are slightly overpriced,” said Elly.

Amzar said he will use his bonus to fix his car as well as share a portion of it with his parents.

Azim Hisham, 37, shared that his plan is to cover most of his three children’s school fees and the rest will go into his savings. “Obviously, as it is the end of the year, I will be treating my children before the new school term begins,” added Azim.

Azim believes that Brunei being next to Malaysia has its pros and cons, as items in the neighbouring country are comparatively cheaper, putting a strain on local businesses.

“Sometimes I go to Miri for baby’s formula and diapers. But to put into consideration the time, effort and car fuel, and out of laziness sometimes, it’s more convenient to shop at local stores. Consumers need to look for shops that sell the items at a cheaper price,” added Azim.

“To say that I shop locally to help grow the economy would be a lie. It’s mainly due to not being able to get leave from work. Thus, most of my spending will be domestic.”

As he and his wife are also expecting another child soon, Azim shared that most of his savings will come in handy when the baby arrives.

“What we used to do was go on day trips once every three months to the neighbouring country to stock up. But once it runs out, we’ll buy locally, unless the prices change drastically in the future.”