Brunei’s economy ready for a giant leap

|    Danial Norjidi    |

BRUNEI Darussalam was included in the findings of recent studies focussed on ease of doing business, gross domestic product (GDP) and sustainable development prospects.

One such study is the World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019, which measures and benchmarks the domestic business regulatory environments of 190 economies.

This report saw Brunei achieve a notable milestone when it was ranked 55th in the world for Ease of Doing Business (EODB). According to the report, the ranking was achieved after the country scored 72.03 out of 100 overall and showed progress in EODB across four indicators.

Brunei’s placing of 55th sees the country continuing an upward trend as it has progressively risen up the rankings, with this year’s rank showing a significant improvement of 50 places from 105th in the Doing Business 2015 Report.

As was reported on November 1, within ASEAN, only Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia recorded improvements in rankings, and Brunei maintained its fourth position behind Singapore (2), Malaysia (15) and Thailand (27).

Meanwhile, in the Asia-Pacific region, Brunei Darussalam is in 13th position behind Republic of Korea (4), Taiwan (5), Japan (11) and China (12); and ahead of India (18).

Progress on Brunei’s business reform agenda is spearheaded and regularly monitored by the country’s EODB Steering Committee, which is chaired by Minister of Energy, Manpower and Industry Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny bin Haji Mohd Hussein and collectively delivered by ‘Champion Groups’ from departments and agencies under the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE), Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism, Ministry of Development, Ministry of Religious Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Communications, Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) and DARe (Darussalam Enterprise).

The Doing Business Report 2019 states that Brunei Darussalam improved its EODB scores in the following indicators: ‘Getting Credit’ (1), ‘Starting A Business’ (16), ‘Getting Electricity’ (31) and ‘Paying Taxes’ (84).

It was reported that, despite efforts to improve business-related process across all the indicators, Brunei slipped in the rankings for several indicators, namely ‘Getting Electricity’ (31), ‘Dealing with Construction Permits’ (55), ‘Registering Property’ (142), ‘Trading Across Borders’ (149), ‘Protecting Minority Investors’ (48), ‘Enforcing Contracts’ (67) and ‘Resolving Insolvency’ (64).

This is due to the increasing competitiveness of and rate of reforms implemented by other participating economies.

In this respect, the country has committed to continue stepping up efforts to streamline, deliver and enforce more efficient and innovative business processes and regulations, to remain globally competitive and improve its rankings for the indicators that it is showing weakness in.

Another recent study was the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s report, ‘ASEAN Progress towards Sustainable Development Goals and the Role of the IMF’, which takes stock of the challenges ahead and provides an overview of how the IMF is supporting ASEAN member countries as they pursue their development agendas.

As was reported on November 11, Brunei and nine other ASEAN member states are well on their way to achieving more sustainable development.

It was shared that strong income and consumption growth in recent years have reduced poverty, improved health and education outcomes, and led to greater inclusion, albeit to varying degrees across the ASEAN member countries.

Meanwhile, the 13th Annual State of the Asia-Pacific Report for 2018-2019 by the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) highlighted that Brunei’s GDP is projected to record 5.1 per cent next year, 4.3 per cent in 2020 and 7.5 per cent in 2021. For this year, it is expected to be 2.3 per cent.