Call for regular talks between ministries, LegCo members

Azlan Othman

Minister of Religious Affairs Yang Berhormat Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman called for consultations between government ministries and departments with Legislative Council (LegCo) members to be carried out on a regular basis, instead of once a year during the LegCo sessions.

In his closing speech on the final day of the 17th LegCo session yesterday, the minister called on the Department of Councils of State to arrange and divide such meetings into different categories on issues or services such as security, religion, social education welfare and public services.

“This can be further coordinated with the available mechanisms at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), in particular the Information Department,” he said.

“The LegCo has been meaningful to the nation, ever since it was reinstated in 2004, under the Brunei Constitution. It has become a strategic platform to deliberate on matters pertaining to the people and country’s interests. LegCo members assume the role of the people’s voice in discussing and reviewing government policies for the well-being of the citizens of Brunei Darussalam.”

LegCo member Yang Berhormat Pengiran Haji Ali bin Pengiran Maon also said that LegCo members have limited time to relay issues and problems at the LegCo sessions. He supported the call made by Cabinet Ministers to deal directly with the relevant ministries or departments, in airing their grievances and views.

He added, “The consultations with the ministries, prior to the LegCo session, is the best platform to discuss matters ranging from minor to major issues with the relevant ministry.”

On the subject of the Employees Trust Fund (TAP) and Supplemental Contributory Pension (SCP) scheme, Yang Berhormat Pengiran Haji Ali called for such contributions to be increased with methodology, instead of burdening the government.

“We are all aware that the era of public servants receiving their pensions will come to an end soon, except for certain posts in the public services. There are concerns with the TAP/SCP scheme, especially among public servants, where they will receive their SCPs when they reach 60.

“The public servants have been inquiring about their source of income besides SCP and the old age pension, and whether TAP is sufficient to accommodate living expenses. This is further aggravated with the unemployment issue among youth. There are parents who still support their children and youth with their old age pensions and monthly pensions. This issue needs to be discussed again among policy- holders,” he said.