Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Brunei Town

Full steam ahead

Danial Norjidi

Over the last few years, significant developments have been made in Brunei Darussalam’s economy, especially in the non-oil and gas sector, which has grown by an average of about five per cent since 2019, according to Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah.

The minister said this at the Economy Week Symposium titled ‘Brunei’s Economy Towards Wawasan Brunei 2035: Where are we?’ as part of the Brunei Mid-Year Conference and Exhibition 2022 (Brunei MYCE 2022) at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Berakas.

He noted that in 2021, the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) launched the Brunei Darussalam Economic Blueprint to guide the nation towards the attainment of the third goal of Brunei Vision 2035, which is for the Sultanate to achieve a dynamic and sustainable economy by 2035.

“There are four national outcomes that we aim to achieve, which are high and sustainable economic growth; economic diversification; macroeconomic stability; and low unemployment rate,” said the minister.

“Over the last few years, we have made significant developments in our economy especially in the non-oil and gas sector,” he shared. “This sector has grown by about five per cent on average since 2019, contributed by new activities and expansion of existing ones.”

Aerial view of Bandar Seri Begawan with Brunei River in the background. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR
Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah. PHOTO: MUIZ MATDANI

Elaborating, the minister shared that the downstream sector’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) has grown significantly from about BND100 million prior to 2019 to about BND1.6 billion in 2021, an increase of more than tenfold in a space of three years.

In terms of export, the downstream sector recorded a value of around BND8 billion in 2021, surpassing the oil and gas export value at about BND6.4 billion.

He also shared that the new fertiliser plant at the Sungai Liang Industrial Park started production at the end of last year and exported its first cargo in January 2022 with the value of BND19.1 million.

“When the plant achieves its full production capacity, it is expected to contribute an additional BND400 million to our annual GDP and an annual export value of about BND 600 million.”

The food sector has also seen growth in recent years, especially in aquaculture and poultry.

“The development of this sector, driven by both foreign direct investments (FDIs) and our local companies, is crucial in promoting export-oriented activities as well as supporting the country’s agenda in ensuring food security. Since 2019, the sector grew by 11.4 per cent on average. In terms of export, it recorded a value of around BND52 million in 2021 compared to about BND8 million five years ago.

“As we move forward towards digitalisation, the role of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector has become increasingly important to ensure accessibility for all and to help our businesses in their drive towards achieving greater productivity,” the minister continued.

He affirmed that the recent telecommunication network infrastructure consolidation is one key development in allowing national digital transformation to be accelerated.

“Apart from allowing us to provide Internet connectivity to all of the population in the country, we are also able to offer a much lower rate to the subscribers and hence helping us in fulfilling our inclusivity goal.

“This initiative also came at a time when we were faced with increasing demand for Internet connectivity since the start of the pandemic which in turn has given opportunities for our ICT companies to expand their products and services. As a result of this, the ICT sector has grown by 6.9 per cent annually on average since 2019.”

The minister also mentioned that various initiatives are currently being undertaken in the services and tourism sectors.

“The Marine Maintenance and Decommissioning Yard project is integral to our overall strategy of developing the marine service industry in the country, based on the Brunei Darussalam Maritime Cluster masterplan that is spearheaded by the Brunei Economic Development Board,” he said. “This project will be realised through the government’s participation in a joint-venture company known as Anson International Sdn Bhd, with a local partner (Haji Adinin and Sons Sdn Bhd) and reputable FDIs namely CessCon Decomm Limited and the Dongil Shipyard Co.”

“Further to its role as a growth catalyst, Brunei has tapped into this important sector so that these specialised marine services will, Insya Allah, soon be available domestically, thus helping to retain in-country value as well as generating economic spin offs and spillover effects to our economy.”

The minister shared that, as the fisheries industries’ exports are expected to increase by 2035, Muara Port Company Sdn Bhd through its subsidiary, the Muara International Fish Landing Sdn Bhd, officially took over the Muara Fish Landing Complex in January 2021 with the objective to develop modern facilities and ensure high quality and environmentally sustainable Fish Landing Complex services, to increase efficiency and productivity of the fisheries industries.

He added that, since then, Phase 1 of the project, which focusses on development of critical shoreline ancillary facilities required for fish landing activities, is nearing completion and is expected to be fully operational by the first quarter of 2023, and is hence expected to help boost efficiency for fish landing activities.

“For the tourism sector, we are also undertaking a partnership with a regional renowned nature conservation organisation and eco-commercial operator in developing an eco-friendly resort to promote both the tourism and forest conservation agenda,” he added.