Brunei requires strong, reliable financial partners to boost private sector: Minister

|     Azlan Othman     |

MINISTER at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah underscored the importance of having strong, reliable financial partners and capital providers to help stimulate the growth of the private sector, as Brunei Darussalam moves forward with its economic diversification yesterday.

The minister was speaking at the Global Research Briefing 2019 hosted by Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) Brunei. He said all critical elements, whether part of the government, private sector, talent or legal and regulatory frameworks, must be aligned and coordinated in achieving the objectives of Brunei Vision 2035.

“Our local landscape has no doubt been affected by the struggles that we have seen in oil prices,” he said.

“We must face a new kind of reality where the ground is ever changing, especially in the context of disruption.

“It requires us to be thoughtful of cause effect linkages, to do a more thorough job of collecting information about existing conditions and assessing the probability of what is likely to come next.”

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah speaks at the event
CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Brunei Anirban Dastidar. – PHOTOS: RAHWANI ZAHARI
Chief Economist of ASEAN and South Asia Edward Lee
Attendees during the event

He added, “They are major trends that are well underway and will shape not just world politics and economics, but also our everyday lives. As disruption is certain, Brunei’s response to that must be deliberate and targetted. We must choose to thrive and stay competitive.

“Structurally, exponential growth in the amount of data that we have seen in the last 10 years has paved the way to several innovations such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the rise of Fintech.

“Data has been the fuel to this revolution, where the more we scale it, the more we are able to disrupt and make efficient the way we do things. This is a really profound thing. If we wish to be a society of abundance, we have to build solutions using technologies of abundance – things that get cheaper the more we collectively use them, and that also have no natural limits on how much you can use them – things such as computation, biotechnology, renewable energy and energy storage.”

The minister also said, “In terms of the current big picture, today we are in the late stages of both the short-term and long-term debt cycle. Putting things into perspective, we are transitioning from a long period of monetary easing to tightening, which are raising yields and putting downward pressure on asset prices and economies globally.

“This is what we have largely experienced in 2018, and it will probably continue to pass through to the economies in 2019. Politics and populism are now playing a big role in economies and markets, adding another layer of unique risks to the mix. How all these factors will play out remain to be seen, but we must recognise that opportunities always arise where challenges present themselves.

“My advice is not to let a good crisis go to waste and I trust that in some ways, the agenda that we have lined up today will bring to the fore what the potential undercurrents are, and to have portfolios be ready and well-equipped to handle the tide.

“We must choose to create our own opportunities irrespective of what the situation is,” he said.

For the second consecutive year, SCB Brunei hosted its Global Research Brief for corporate clients, where senior economist and FX strategists from its global network shared their outlook and insights for the year ahead.

The seminar held at the Indera Samudra Grand Hall of The Empire Hotel & Country Club was attended by about 100 of the bank’s corporate clients and stakeholders.

During the morning conference event, Chief Economist of ASEAN and South Asia Edward Lee shared the bank’s global market outlook, while Asia FX Strategist Divya Devesh presented views on the latest developments in the United States, as well in emerging and Asian FX markets.

In his welcoming speech, CEO of SCB Brunei Anirvan Dastidar said, “Through our Global Research Brief, we aim to provide some insights on how best to navigate the tides and currents of these market event; and most importantly, what it means for us in the ASEAN region and in Brunei Darussalam. We deliver differentiated research to the people and companies driving investment, trade and the creation of wealth across emerging markets.”

The theme of this year’s Global Research Briefing is ‘Fighting the Current’, and the brief follows the publication of SCB’s Global Focus magazine.