Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah yesterday announced the amendment to the Old Age and Disability Pensions (Amendment) Act, 2021; and the Persons with Disabilities (OKU) Order, 2021, which provides equal human rights and full participation opportunities in the society for persons with different abilities as well as improved care providing allowance to those who are qualified, upholding the titah 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 during the deliberation of the proposed 2022-2023 budget on the third day of the 18th Legislative Council (LegCo).
To streamline the process of providing assistance by the relevant agencies and ensure that those entitled to receive assistance are not left behind, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said the government has expanded the capacity of the National Welfare System (SKN) to enable applicants from the private sector and the self-employed who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to obtain the assistance.
The minister also detailed the allocation of budgets for the 11th National Development Plan (RKN11): BND200,000 for a new building at Wellfare Home Complex under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports; BND38.8 million for the national housing scheme in Kampong Lugu and Kampong Tanah Jambu; BND26.1 million for construction works as well as upgrade and replacement of water supply assets under the Ministry of Development; BND44 million for upgrading works and maintenance of electrical infrastructure; BND20.2 million for improvement and maintenance of roads; BND15 million for the management of natural disasters such as floods and landslides; and BND5.5 million for several flood mitigation projects.
He noted that His Majesty has consented for eligible staff in the open vote and daily salary under divisions IV and V to be integrated into permanent services and receive all the facilities under the permanent service. Starting in the fiscal year 2022-2023, the allocation for open vote and daily paid salary employees is BND107.63 million.
He shared that a study by the Ministry of Finance and Economy in collaboration with the Employees Trust Fund (TAP) has been completed and the full implementation will begin in 2023.
Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said the government has leased devices from telecommunication companies for use by teachers and underprivileged students, amounting to BND8.4 million under the Ministry of Finance and Economy’s Miscellaneous Services to fund the laptop and Internet data supply project under the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA), especially students registered with the Miftaahun Najaah Scheme (SMN).
“Meanwhile, to ensure food security, the government will continue to make sure that food supply in the country is always secured including the hope of achieving self-sufficiency and reduce dependence on imports,” he said.
Taking into account the country’s high food import rate of 74 per cent, the minister revealed that the rate of food inflation in the country was at 2.4 per cent in 2021. Several efforts have been and are being implemented to increase production from the agriculture, fisheries and livestock sectors.
He cited PaddyCo Sdn Bhd has successfully expanded the Kandol paddy plantations from 8.23 hectares in 2019 to 48 hectares in November 2021; it will be further expanded to 173 hectares by the end of the year. As such, BND10 million will be provided for phase two of the paddy, which is expected to be completed by 2026, with an area of 500 hectares with the potential to contribute 11 to 15 per cent of food self-sufficiency.
In addition, a total of BND9 million has been prepared under the Paddy Repurchase Scheme, the minister added.
BND1.9 million has been allocated to develop and open up aquaculture industry sites, through the implementation of productivity programmes. To increase quality and productivity in the fisheries sector, several joint venture companies have been established.
To support the increase in vegetable production by using technologies and modern techniques a total of BND5 million has been allocated. For the livestock sector, BND3 million will be used to fund the Livestock Industry Development Plan.
Towards ensuring food safety, the Brunei Darussalam Food Authority (BDFA) was established on January 1, 2021, as the authority that aims to support the functions and roles of the BDFA such as the Fresh Meat Order (2011) (Amendment) (2020) and the Public Health (Food) Regulations, Chapter 182 (Amendment) (2020). Several new laws and regulations have also been enacted to further strengthen food safety and quality issues.
To address food inflation issues, the Department of Economic Planning and Statistics (DEPS) is currently actively monitoring the situation. Several amendments have also been made: Chapter 142 of the Price Control Act (Amendment) Order 2021, Price Control (Maximum Prices and Charges) (Amendment) Order 2021, and Price Control (Minimum Price and Charges) (Repeal) Order 2021. These amendments allow relevant information to be obtained from businesses to monitor the price of certain basic goods for policy input and price control enforcement.
Apart from continuous price control the, DEPS also updates market prices weekly for more than 100 food and non-food products in the Pengguna Bijak application to enable the public to compare prices.