His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, reminded all members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) to be open-minded and free from outside influence as the country does not want any elements that compromise the purity of the Bruneian identity.
This was emphasised by the monarch in his titah at the Opening Ceremony of the 19th LegCo Session on Thursday.
Also present at the opening ceremony at the LegCo building in Jalan Dewan Majlis were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO); His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah and His Royal Highness Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah.
The monarch hopes that the newly appointed members will fulfill their responsibilities with sincerity and openness to feedback and input, seeking positive impact. This is the time to discuss without limitations, and the monarch would like everyone to be open-minded but free from external influences.
His Majesty hopes that members with vast experience can serve as strategic role models in voicing out strategic issues. His Majesty also reminded members that operational and tactical issues can be discussed with relevant agencies outside the council session from time to time.
His Majesty added that it is crucial to take on the challenge of boosting government revenue, and the discussion and approval of deliberations should have a positive impact on the country and the people without burdening the government.
Unemployment is a significant issue that requires attention
His Majesty is confident that with the cooperation and strong support of relevant parties, the unemployment rate can be reduced. This has been achieved before, His Majesty said, with the rate dropping from 7.3 per cent in 2020 to 4.9 perc ent in 2021. His Majesty’s government, through the Manpower Planning and Employment Council (MPEC) Secretariat, continuously plans and implements several strategies through Whole of Government and Whole of Nation approaches to ensure the well-being and interests of local job hunters are empowered by retraining and knowledge upgrade to facilitate employment.
His Majesty stated that in enhancing the professional skills of locals in private companies, especially in the Construction and Energy sectors, the “HSE Competency Apprentice Program” has been introduced to enable them to register as “Workplace Safety and Health officers” (WSHO) or coordinators in the workplace in accordance with the Safety, Health, and Environmental National Authority (SHENA). The government has also introduced the Skills Plus Program to give locals the opportunity to improve their skills and marketability, and the program has now been extended to four new sectors, namely Energy, Construction, Transport, Logistics, and HSE.
During the 18th Legislative Council opening session, His Majesty mentioned the Employee Trust Fund Scheme (TAP) and the study carried out to improve the National Retirement Scheme (SPK) as part of his government’s efforts to strengthen inclusivity and sustainable social security, which is one of the main pillars of the country’s social security strategy. The new retirement scheme will provide better retirement income than the current TAP and encourage members to continue to find employment in the government, public, or private sector, which will help them during retirement. The scheme will be launched in July.
Brunei Commits to Climate Change with Hosting of ASEAN Center for Climate Change
His Majesty has given his consent for Brunei to host the ASEAN Center for Climate Change, which will allow national and international experts to conduct research activities related to climate change. This move is in line with the country’s climate change policy, which aims to introduce a carbon inventory directive using a centralised inventory system as part of the country’s efforts to monitor and verify data accurately.
By the end of 2023, this information will be included in the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan, as an effort to coordinate and adapt to climate change.
Boosting the Nation’s Economy with Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)
According to the Annual Census of Enterprises report in 2021, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) formed 97.2 percent of the total active businesses in 2020. His Majesty believes that MSMEs have a crucial role in strengthening the nation’s economy, and the surrounding businesses must continue to innovate to encourage more entrepreneurs to venture into business and enterprises, as well as encourage existing enterprises to continue to expand.
To achieve this, His Majesty said MSMEs should be bold in expanding overseas to create high value-add for the country. Darussalam Enterprise (DaRE) has provided support schemes, training programs, and advisory services to ensure MSMEs fully benefit from their services.
DaRE has also facilitated several projects in priority sectors such as Agri-food and development to improve the conducive environment to generate more activities that support self-sufficiency and export orientation.
More details on Friday’s Borneo Bulletin