The business community is encouraged to embrace digitalisation as the Sultanate continues to invest in infrastructure to improve the reach and bandwidth of telecommunication services, said Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy (Economy) Dato Seri Paduka Haji Khairuddin bin Haji Abdul Hamid during a panel session at the National Business Conference 2023 yesterday.
Dato Seri Paduka Haji Khairuddin said the country is also investing in soft infrastructure such as digital identification (digital ID) and the national digital payment system, which is being worked on with local financial institutions, on top of looking to develop data centre cloud services in the country.
“That’s what we hope to develop in terms of our economic development,” said the deputy minister, adding that the government will also be engaging with the private sector in terms of what form of government assistance it needs.
The deputy minister also noted that in the past, Brunei’s gross domestic product (GDP) majority share had been predominantly in the oil and gas sector. However, in recent years, that share is down to less than half and is being overtaken by the non-oil and gas sector.
He noted Brunei’s GDP has been in the negative for the past few years, and they are expecting the country’s 2022 to be about -2.7 per cent mainly due to contractions in the oil and gas sector.
“Although there are improvements in terms of our non-oil and gas sector, it has not been able to balance out the contributions of oil and gas,” said the deputy minister.
He said sectors that have been providing improvements in the non-oil and gas sector include fisheries, downstream of oil and gas through manufacturing of petroleum products and chemicals, wholesale and retail trade, air transport, as well as other manufactured goods.
“Although we are very optimistic in terms of going forward, we are still investing in the oil and gas infrastructure to hopefully be able to stabilise and increase production, as well as improvements in our other non-oil and gas sector that we hope to develop further.”
Prior to the panel discussion, the Conference heard from the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council Secretary-General Eduardo Pedrosa who highlighted how global challenges are impacting the region such as inflation,supply chain issues and currency fluctuations.
Executive Director of LVK Group of Companies and Chair of the APEC Business Advisory Council Brunei Nik Hafimi binti Abdul Haadii, and Brunei LNG Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Hajah Faridah binti Dato Seri Paduka Haji Talib were also on the panel.