Be courageous and transparent, LegCo members told

Lyna Mohamad

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 highlighted the government’s efforts to further enhance human capital development, the economy and the country’s fiscal sustainability, at the opening ceremony of the First Meeting of the 17th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday.

“These require the commitment of all parties, especially those in charge of government policies,” said His Majesty.

“Policyholders are required to be courageous and transparent. During these meetings, there should be no limits imposed on discussions to restrict the views of council members, as the opportunity only occurs once a year. It is therefore appropriate for council members to engage in vigorous, yet healthy discussions.”

His Majesty said, “I constantly followed the progress of the council members during their talk (muzakarah) sessions with the ministries, in order to convey the issues raised by village and mukim residents, as well as local entrepreneurs. These sessions should be continued from time to time, without waiting for the commencement of the LegCo meeting sessions.

“There are plenty of important issues to be discussed, such as the reduction in the government’s fiscal due to unpredictable global oil prices. What has happened to our nation’s economic production? If there are any negative elements, how should they be addressed?

“This also applies to other issues, such as the Employees Trust Fund (TAP) Scheme, which still raises a major concern regarding its capacity to provide security for members who have families to support after retirement.

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 delivers his titah during the opening of the 17th session of the Legislative Council. PHOTO: INFOFOTO

“These can be examined at a discussion level, without the need to provide solutions or decisions. It is important to look first for diverse views, particularly among the appointed council members.

“I am aware that almost half of the allocated annual budget is for employees’ salaries, with the remainder for recurring expenses. Nevertheless, several projects under the Fiscal Consolidation Programme introduced by the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) since the financial year of 2018/2019 has already begun to produce results.

“Regarding unemployment issues, my government, through the Manpower Planning and Employment Council, has successfully reduced the unemployment rate.

“Insya Allah, with the implementation of several initiatives under the Economic Blueprint, the country will be able to generate job opportunities for locals. It is hoped that these opportunities will not go to waste, due to choosiness over jobs, which is a detrimental mindset.”

“This year, Brunei Darussalam will be chairing meetings at the ASEAN level, with the theme ‘We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper’. This theme carries a broad meaning at the ASEAN level and indeed, for Brunei Darussalam itself.”

Earlier, His Majesty alluded to the country’s success in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic: “As we know, the coronavirus outbreak left a profound global socio-economic impact, including here in Brunei Darussalam. Alhamdulillah, with the coordinated efforts of all parties and through constant prayers, our country has been able to contain the outbreak successfully.

“My highest congratulations go out to all of the frontliners, as well as to all levels of society that worked together with the government. May this situation continue to endure.”

In concluding the titah, His Majesty said, “I pray for this year’s meetings to proceed smoothly, as well as capable of generating productive bilateral debates, in order to implement the projects under the financial year of 2021/2022.”