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Brunei
Thursday, February 2, 2023
22.2 C
Brunei
Thursday, February 2, 2023
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    Call for more hawker centres to strengthen economy

    With our country aspiring to diversify its economy, it becomes crucial to accentuate our food and beverage sector, which generates BND400 million per annum. In 2017, it accounted for 11 per cent of total enterprises and employed nine per cent of the local workforce.

    To further accelerate the growth, hawker centres, such as the Gadong Night Market, ought to be set up in densely-populated areas across the country.

    Hawker centres can generate an additional BND1 billion in indirect value to the economy by 2035, creating approximately 5,000 sustainable decent-paying jobs. For this to be realised, 15 new hawker stalls must be constructed in selected high-density mukims or villages and along Bandar Seri Begawan-Belait highway. The stalls should be able to accommodate a stall capacity of 50 units each.

    These centres could render innumerable value for our country by serving as opportunity zones to enable our low-income population to make money through entrepreneurial work.

    We do not need to look far at how hard our people are willing to work for hours on end.

    One only needs to see the hundreds of low-income families selling food and drinks in self-built stalls by the sides of roads. Inviting these people to join the hawker centres would make a solid economic and social impact, effectively reducing income inequality and keeping poverty at bay.

    These hawker centres could also promote competition in the sector, keeping inflation in check by allowing people to sell food at an affordable price. The clustered design means that enterprises could take advantage of economies of scale in reducing costs and prices, generating repeat sales through agglomeration effects. In simple terms, nasi katok would remain at BND1, instead of BND3, in the next 10 years.

    The country needs to take the necessary steps to create a sustainable long-term growth cycle, and I believe that investing in these hawker centres would be the right step forward.

    Munshi MacArthur

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