Kampong Ayer to get B$45-million facelift

|     Hakim Hayat     |

THE Minister of Home Affairs (MoHA) yesterday outlined several key focusses of the ministry’s budget allocation for the financial year 2018-2019 in his motion at the ongoing 14th Legislative Council (LegCo) session, highlighting the ministry’s continuous commitment in enhancing quality of services, security and infrastructure facilities for the community as well as bolstering economic development.

With MoHA’s proposed budget allocation of B$148.69 million, Minister of Home Affairs YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong yesterday outlined that the ministry’s expenditures will be in line with the prudency measures in the national budget and stressed the ministry’s commitment to ensure all plans and strategies are implemented using performance budgeting methods that take into account the real need and priorities based on its key performance indicators (KPIs).

Some of the highlights in his motion yesterday included a B$45 million budget for the revitalisation of the iconic Kampong Ayer and upgrading works for two of the country’s largest markets under the 11th National Development Plan (RKN).

The minister said B$45 million will be allocated for the Kampong Ayer revitalisation project which will see construction of 157 new houses in two phases.

Part of MoHA’s RKN budget will also be utilised to upgrade the Gadong market (B$5 million) and also the Jerudong market (B$4 million), the minister shared.

B$52.7 million (40 per cent of MoHA’s total budget allocation) has also been allocated towards enhancing the welfare and unity of the people, strengthening the functions and effectiveness of the mukim penghulu and village head institutions as well as developing the municipal administration and improving infrastructures for creating a more conducive business environment.

YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong, Minister of Home Affairs. – INFOFOTO

Elaborating further on the matter of the mukim penghulu and village head institutions, the minister shared that latest statistics indicate that 65 mukim penghulu and village head positions are still vacant, largely due to the lack of suitable candidates.

As part of its medium-term efforts to tackle the issue, the minister said it has organised a three-month community leadership workshop in association with the Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Advancement (ILIA), Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), in hopes to hone the next generation of leaders by polishing their leadership skills.

The minister also shared its efforts in increasing government revenue by expediting tax revenue collection including those that are overdue. Since the establishment of its Recovery Taskforce Unit in 2016, the Municipal Department has successfully recovered B$5.7 million and this has brought down total overdue amount from B$46 million to B$40.29 million.

The minister added that a number of initiatives have been implemented to expedite overdue payment collection, including the use of SMS Push Notification, pareto principle methods, the establishment of a Credit Control Unit and a guideline for payments in installments.

On the ‘One Village, One Product’ (1K1P) programme the minister shared that several plans are being mooted in cooperation with several related agencies inside and outside the country, to develop the 1K1P products so they are sustainable and can penetrate into domestic and regional markets through the enhancement of product quality, packaging, marketing and fulfilling certifications.

In its efforts to improve the Ease of Doing Business in the country, the minister said his ministry is also continuously working towards offering efficient and fast service. He shared that the introduction of the Que Up system for identification card and passport last year has drastically minimised waiting time from 109 minutes to 13 minutes and it has reduced the number of walk-in customers by seven per cent.

The minister also shared that as part of its efforts in supporting economic development, the Labour Department, in association with other related agencies, is currently in the process of introducing a ‘Foreign Directors Criteria’ which envisage to coordinate the appointment of foreign national directors who will contribute to the economy and help boost employment opportunities for locals.

As part of the ministry’s initiatives in strengthening national readiness and resilience through the Fire and Rescue Department and the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), the minister said the Fire and Rescue Department has improved its response time in the past year and has trained over 2,000 fire marshalls in different government and private sector organisations.

He added that the whole-of-nation approach taken by government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in offering aid and support during the recent flash flood occurence has also helped alleviate the burden of flood victims, proving that programmes such as the Community-Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) and School-Based Disaster Risk Management (SBDRM) since 2009 are making effective impacts.