| Lyna Mohamad |
AT THE first meeting of the 15th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday, 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 expressed hope that more strategic matters would be raised for the welfare of the people.
With the estimated revenue and budget for the financial year of 2019-2020 forming the meeting’s main agenda, His Majesty stated his confidence that the allotted budget would be sufficient to meet the nation’s requirements.
“All planned programmes and initiatives should further enhance the quality of life for the people; hence the need to reinforce the administration system, including its policies and regulations, which must be regularly updated to ensure more transparency and efficiency,” said His Majesty.
“It has come to my attention that our LegCo members have made working visits to ministries, including site visits for an in-depth look at the current status of projects carried out by the government through foreign direct investment (FDI), public private partnership (PPP), private companies and government-linked companies (GLCs).
“With this, I would advise them not to raise questions that have been discussed many times already, but to bring forward new topics on how to boost the economy by intensifying diversification strategies, with the goal of building a future for the young generation.”
Touching on the subject of youth, His Majesty said, “They are the nation’s assets and the engine to drive forward economic growth. Therefore, the relevant ministries must ensure that youth remain perpetually inspired towards the development agenda. This is in step with the rapid pace of technology which has brought about major changes, including the development of the digital industry with its focus on the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and so on, where the Fourth Industrial Revolution will become one of the main agenda in empowering the community, particularly the student community, entrepreneurs and the government, including making changes to the landscape of everyday life.”
His Majesty then called on local entrepreneurs to make the most of the digital economy, as well as the opportunity to profit from trade without borders.
On the subject of economy, the monarch said, “Brunei Darussalam has always worked for establishing a favourable environment at an international level, having participated in several free trade agreements with our regional and international partners to open up marketing opportunities.
“Insya Allah, we will soon conclude discussions on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is an economic cooperation agreement with ASEAN member countries and six other countries, comprising Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand that will open up business opportunities to three billion people.
“Local entrepreneurs should take advantage from these agreements by upgrading their product quality and scaling up their competitiveness, which would inevitably contribute to our diversification goals. It corresponds to our country’s need for an industry roadmap, towards economic and industrial sustainability. However, we are quite concerned that over the last few years, the GDP growth has been less favourable following the drop in global oil prices, while most of the country’s revenue is largely dependent on oil and gas revenues. Nevertheless, by the grace of Allah the Almighty, several non-oil and gas sectors have shown positive growth, such as the services sector. This definitely requires a whole-of-nation approach, because if those in the frontline administration – including Cabinet Ministers, deputy ministers, permanent secretaries and senior government officials – do not show solidarity and unity in realising the National Vision, then obviously, all our efforts will be wasted.”
On the issue of unemployment, His Majesty expressed concern over the increasing rate, saying that it must not be taken lightly.
“I would like this issue to be studied for possible short or long-term solutions, including the assessment of human resources in both local and foreign higher learning institutions, for their marketability and relevancy to the current situation,” said the monarch.
On the subject of welfare, His Majesty said, “This includes the allocation of financial assistance and subsidies. They must be properly distributed, in order to prevent omissions and misuse among the recipients.”
His Majesty urged the LegCo members to focus more on strategic matters for the advancement of the nation, while also reminding them to put forward views or suggestions in all spheres of activity under government jurisdiction.