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Brunei’s economic aspirations may come sooner than expected

James Kon

With the aligned vision between public and private sectors, and under the leadership 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, the Sultanate’s aspirations to achieve a dynamic and sustainable economy will come to fruition sooner than expected.

This was highlighted by 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 during the Borneo Bulletin Yearbook (BBYB) Networking Session 2022 at The Rizqun International Hotel yesterday.

The minister also underlined the importance for businesses in the Sultanate to be prepared for new future challenges.

“Over the last two years or so, we have experienced unprecedented economic and social disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic on a global scale,” he said.

“Alhamdulillah, with the gradual transition to endemicity and the continuous lifting of pandemic-related restrictions, we are starting to see signs of recovery with encouragingly higher economic activities across many sectors.”

However, he also noted that the road ahead remains uncertain, with new challenges emerging, particularly the global inflation.

“As a country that imports most of our consumer goods, it is inevitable that we will be confronting the challenge of imported inflation resulting in the higher prices of everyday goods that we consume,” said the minister.

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. PHOTOS: MUIZ MATDANI
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 takes a closer look at an exhibit, while QAF Brunei Group CEO Albert Lau and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd General Manager Mohd Najmuddin bin Abdul Razak look on

Economists have forecast that the inflation will subside early next year. However, the minister cautioned that “things will not go back to business-as-usual so quickly”.

“There are many current global events happening out there that could pose new challenges that will affect the environment in which our businesses are operating in,” he added.

The Brunei Darussalam Economic Blueprint launched by the Ministry of Finance and Economy last year provides “guiding principles for us to achieve an economy that is more prepared for new challenges while pursuing economic diversification”.

The six aspirations in the blueprint are: productive and vibrant businesses; skilled, adaptable and innovative people; open and globally connected economy; sustainable environment; high quality and competitive economic infrastructure; and good governance and public service excellence.

With five key sectors identified in the blueprint – downstream oil and gas, food, tourism, services and information-communication technology – Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew believed in the importance of the private sector in contributing to the economy including foreign direct investments and the utilisation of technology.

Before the pandemic, the minister said “companies globally were able to grow faster through creative processes by combining creative resources and technology.

“Skilled, adaptable and innovative people with the right mentality will lead to generations of more entrepreneurial talents that can capture more opportunities. Businesses must continue to pursue higher productivity to enhance their competitiveness, especially if they were to compete in the international market.”

Earlier this year, the minister recalled, the Digital Economy Council launched the Brunei Innovation Lab to help local businesses scale up by leveraging on technology to produce smart solutions in addressing real world problems and creating new opportunities.

“To ensure that our economic growth is sustainable, we must always be mindful of our environment. In the pursuit of economic diversification, our country’s natural environment has to be safeguarded through the promotion of environmentally friendly initiatives,” he said.

“We need to achieve the right balance between the objectives of economic development or growth and environment conservation. Additionally, to ensure conducive business environment, our governance and public services need to be transparent, accountable and adherent to the rule of law.”

The event was attended by industry leaders from the business community, key personnel from government-linked companies, as well as public and private sectors.

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