COVID-19 test of resilience, endurance

James Kon

“There is no doubt that 2020 was a challenging – and maybe even defining – year globally. COVID-19 was and still is a test of resilience and endurance, and Brunei Darussalam was no exception,” Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) Managing Director Hajah Rokiah binti Haji Badar said.

Alhamdulillah, we are seeing and reaping the results of the whole-of-nation approach by the Government 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 where the challenges and impact from the pandemic are managed well,” she said during the Centre for Islamic Banking, Finance and Management (CIBFM) rebranding launch ceremony yesterday.

The ceremony was officiated by Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong in his capacity as Deputy Chairman of AMBD Board of Directors where CIBFM will operate under the new name Brunei Institute of Leadership and Islamic Finance (BILIF).

Hajah Rokiah, who is also Chairperson of CIBFM Board of Directors, urged the newly-renamed agency to continue collaborating with international training institutes and relevant institutions to remain abreast of the latest training modules and gain access to world class resources.

She also highlighted that apart from Islamic finance, other areas that BILIF can actively look into are financial technology, sustainable finance and digital payments which are in concurrence with AMBD’s Developmental Agenda for the Financial Sectors.

AMBD Acting Assistant Managing Director who is BILIF Acting Chief Executive Officer Hajah Sufinah binti Haji Sahat also quoted His Majesty’s new year 2021 titah during which the monarch said as Brunei Darussalam assumes the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2021, people of ASEAN must be given the opportunity to enhance their skills and capabilities to prepare them for challenges and be quicker to seize opportunities.

Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) Managing Director Hajah Rokiah binti Haji Badar delivers her remarks. PHOTO: JAMES KON

His Majesty also highlighted the need for the country to keep pace with the rapid changes alongside of ASEAN Counterparts in the strengthening of the state of economic, educational and security systems based on issued blueprint, master and strategic plans, she added.

In heeding His Majesty’s call, she said, “It is an important role that an institution like BILIF plays particularly in closing the skills and knowledge gaps, and providing upskilling and reskilling opportunities, not just in the financial industry but also across the private and public sectors. Undeniably, one of the key areas for success of the Financial Blueprint (FSBP) 2016-2025, the Digital Payment Roadmap 2019-2025, the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 and more recently, Ministry of Finance and Economy’s (MoFE) Economic Blueprint for Brunei Darussalam is the need for innovative, skillful and adaptable talents that will implement all these plans. Concerted efforts in building the capacity of human talents in sectors are also key to achieving Goal 1 of Brunei Vision 2035 – educated, highly skilled and accomplished people.”

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 accelerated by the pandemic, she cited, “World Economic Forum’s Future of Work Report 2020 that found gaps in skills, such as critical thinking, leadership and analysis as well as problem solving, will continue to be wide as in-demand skills and skills in self-management, such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility will change in the next five years.

“In this regard, BILIF should continue to offer courses that could elevate people’s soft skills, critical thinking and also leadership that meet the industry’s needs,” she said.

In support of organisations in ensuring that their people continuously develop and enhance their capabilities, she said, “AMBD is a strong advocate of continuous learning and through Pillar 5 of the FSBP that focusses on human capital development, we have trust in that BILIF as the centre of excellence raises the financial industry’s standards through trainings in corporate finance, Islamic finance and leadership.”

She also sees the rebranding as timely as the move took into account the niche area that the agency is venturing into as well as looking into supporting financial industry development in the future. “I am especially excited when I learnt of BILIF’s leadership in Islamic Finance and Economics (LIFE), a tiered professional learning pathway to develop and groom future Islamic finance experts not just for professionals in the industry but also those wanting to be part of the Islamic finance ecosystem,” Hajah Rokiah said.