New budget to focus on productivity using technology

James Kon

The budget for 2021-2022 is themed ‘Towards Resilient Socio-Economic Development’. This was revealed by Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah at the 17th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday.

The focus will be on three priorities – enhancing national productivity; provision of sustainable and resilient facilities and infrastructure for public welfare and economic development; and generating competent and employable human resources.

“The first priority focusses on new opportunities to improve productivity and sustainability of the nation through the latest technological developments and innovations with the whole-of-nation approach and whole-of-government approach,” said the minister.

Among the activities identified included supporting local product production. The government will continue to work together with private sector including government linked companies (GLCs) and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in providing industrial and agricultural sites and utilising latest technologies so that the products will be competitive and can be exported.

The minister said, “Among the initiatives implemented by government agencies and GLCs to increase efficiency and productivity are assistance to local farmers by DARe (Darussalam Enterprise) through training by Agrome IQ.

“Meanwhile, the construction of a 55-hectare feedlot facility and napier farm under PDS Abattoir Sdn Bhd with the investment of BND6.3 million can accommodate 2,800 heads of cattle at a time and process about 7,000 heads of cattle a year. The initiative will help raise the production of meat and reduce the need of import.

“With the investment of BND14.5 million, the fish landing complex project in Muara is under the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) with collaboration of Muara Port Company Sdn Bhd. The project is expected to help raise the production of the fisheries industry and contribute to export and bring more employment to locals as well as open business opportunities to MSMEs.

“Other initiatives, including a paddy cultivation area project in Kandol, Belait District, will continue with infrastructure construction works. PaddyCo Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Darussalam Assets, was established to handle the project since Phase One. Alhamdulillah, during the plantation season of May to September 2020 with 17.23 hectares, PaddyCo Sdn Bhd produced 50.22 metric tonnes of paddy.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah at the Legislative Council session. PHOTO: INFOFOTO

“For phase two, PaddyCo Sdn Bhd will expand the project to 145 hectares that is expected to produce four metric tonnes per hectare.”

Meanwhile, Golden Corporation Sdn Bhd, which operates a shrimp farm, has recorded an export value of BND13.8 million. It will increase its production to 4,000 tonnes this year.

The minister said strategic development capital fund under Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) has been working with Pure Fresh Group to develop the rostris blue shrimp industry in the country by establishing hatchery and breeding facilities, breeding farms and seafood processing facilities.

Alhamdulillah for year 2020, Pure Fresh joint venture company has produced 1.1 million baby shrimp and have harvested 1.6 metric tonnes of rostris blue shrimp. The company also exported the shrimp.”

Ghanim International Corporation Sdn Bhd has been working together with 18 MSMEs to export their products under the brand name bruneihalalfoods to the regional market through Ghanim International’s distribution network in Australia, Malaysia, China and Singapore. As an ongoing effort, Ghanim will build a processing facility to assist MSMEs to produce products that can meet international standards in terms of food safety.

On the establishment of Brunei Darussalam Food Authority (BDFA) with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and MPRT on January 1, he said, “BDFA is a statutory body that plays the role as an authority to coordinate on food quality and safety management. With its establishment, it will be a catalyst for local food industry in achieving international competitiveness.”

To increase the productivity of local products, especially in agriculture, fisheries and agri-food sectors under the MPRT, the minister said, “Several provisions have been provided under the National Development Plan (RKN) and Ordinary Expenditure.”

Under the RKN, an allocation of BND39.5 million will be provided to the agriculture sector to fund several projects. The projects are to develop aquaculture industry sites amounting to BND7.2 million; to open up paddy plantation areas in Kandol with the allocation of BND8 million; livestock industry development projects such as preparation of sites and infrastructure with a total of BND17 million; and a project to increase vegetable production with BND10 million.

Provisions to fund the MPRT include BND3.3 million under Fisheries Department to fund fisheries development and planning programme.

Department of Agriculture and Agrifood are allocated BND8 million to expand the agricultural and agrifood production system; BND15.7 million to fund the paddy repurchase scheme; and BND8.9 million to fund the Crop, Livestock and Agrifood Industry Management Programme.

The second activity under the first priority is improving public service productivity through the application of technology.

In the country’s aspiration to become a smart nation, a number of initiatives have been implemented.

The Government Human Resource Management System (GHRMS) is allocated with BND1.9 million. It is a collaborative project between the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the MoFE. This system will be integrated with the Treasury Accounting Financial Information System 2.0 (TAFIS Two) to coordinate human resource management of the public sector including salary payment and other services.

The National Welfare System (SKN) is allocated BND729,000. The system was launched on July 15, 2020. The project is joint effort between Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) and MoFE as well as Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) through Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB), Ministry of Education (MoE) and Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah.

The Immigration and National Registration System (INRS) project under Immigration and National Registration Department (INRD) and Labour Management Information System (LMIS) project under Labour Department will enable information sharing between the agencies through ‘People Information Hub’.

One Common Billing System (OCBS) was set up to ease the process of collecting government revenues for government departments that do not have a billing system. This was allocated BND2.2 million.

The One Common Portal (OCP) is a project to integrate the System for Tax Administration and Revenue Services in the Revenue Division and Corporate Registry System in the Registration of Companies and Business Names Division. The project was aimed at making sure private companies comply with the Income Tax Act. With the integration, it can allow actions to be taken by Registration of Companies and Business Names Division on companies that failed to forward their annual tax returns. This was allocated BND1.8 million.

Brunei Darussalam National Single Window 2 upgrading project by the Royal Customs and Excise Department (RCED) was allocated BND860,000 to put all functions and processes into one platform that was previously implemented in the e-Customs system.

The improvement of Vehicle Exit-Entry System under RCED comes with the cost of BND227,000.

The Centralised Data Management System costing BND1.2 million is to collect information in MoFE to facilitate policy formulation as well as share information with other government agencies.

The e-Census System Project for the Population and Housing Census (BPP) 2021 under the Department of Economic Planning and Statistics (JPES) is to enable the collection of comprehensive and up-to-date information on the population. The allocation is BND2.2 million.

The Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) is allocated BND5.4 million to fund projects under the National Development Plan.

The projects are the National Centralised Database with the cost of BND1.8 million, Government Data Centres and cloud infrastructure with BND3.6 million price tag.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) is allocated BND4.98 million for Bru-HIMS upgrade.

The MoE is allocated BND1.9 million for Government School Network Infrastructure Upgrading Project.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) introduced the e-Voting System to improve the selection and election of penghulus and village heads using an online voting system.

The third activity under the first priority is strengthening the government’s fiscal position.

The minister said, “Government expenditure needs to be controlled according to expected revenue to avoid budget deficits.

“A balanced approach must be taken so that economic diversification, strengthening the private sector and expand the country’s income base are not hindered.”

Initiatives under the Fiscal Consolidation Programme (FCP) was introduced in the financial year 2018-2019. The FCP have marked several achievements.

The incorporation of the Government Printing Department on July 1, 2020 to Print Plus Sdn Bhd allowed it to provide expanded products and services to government departments and the public.

Ministry of Defence’s (MinDef) Scan Eat initiatives increase efficiency in food distribution and saved the government BND1.4 million a year.

MoE’s asset management have provided more conducive and comfortable learning environment while saving the government BND6.8 million a year and generating 260 jobs for locals.

MoE’s Local Contract Teachers Programme to increase local teacher’s ability to teach English and Mathematics is expected to be effective starting 2024 and can save the government about BND6 million a year.

Several projects have been implemented with GLCs including the supply of medicines for MoH by outsourcing to Royal Brunei Technical Services (RBTS). It is intended to improve quality and efficiency in medical supply chain management as well as provide savings to the government.