| Wani Roslan |
THE Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) has been allocated a budget of BND53,722,753 for the financial year 2019/2020.
The amount was announced by Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yusof at the Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting yesterday.
The Ministry of Communications was renamed the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications on December 15, 2018 to reflect a new approach on the direction of the Government of 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’s policy towards Brunei Vision 2035, by taking into account the development of global technology and extending its coverage to include the digital economy.
In line with this development, His Majesty has approved the establishment of the Digital Economy Council, which will be chaired by the Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II, and the Minister of Transport and Infocommunications, with the council given the responsibility of guiding the development and direction of the digital economy in the Sultanate.
“For the 2019-2020 budget allocation, the MTIC will further enhance its efforts in planning and implementing initiatives towards the establishment of a sustainable transportation and info-communications sector,” said the minister.
He shared the initiatives for ICT sector transformation in the country from the perspective of the MTIC.
One of these is the establishment of the Unified National Networks Sdn Bhd (UNN), which integrates the country’s telecommunications infrastructure under one company and aims to support the MTIC’s National Broadband Policy.
The minister laid out the policy’s objectives, which among others, include ensuring all users have broadband access; improving the value, quality and affordability of bandwidth services; and ensuring optimum bandwidth usage.
“These objectives are in line with the development of the ICT industry structure in the country,” the minister said. “The ministry through AITI will continue to play its role as regulator to ensure the interests of consumers in matters such as coverage and quality of service, pricing and usage are preserved.”
To help Brunei Darussalam achieve Smart Nation status, the minister pointed out that the field of cyber-security is also given special attention.
“The establishment of the National Cyber Security Centre serves as an administrator that monitors and coordinates national efforts in addressing cyber-security threats,” he said.
“The Internal Security Department (ISD) currently is acting as an interim cyber-security centre by working closely with IT Protective Security Services Sdn Bhd (ITPSS). In this case, the Brunei Computer Emergency Response Team Centre (BruCERT Services) will begin to run extensively nationwide from the second quarter of 2019.”
The minister also highlighted that the MTIC is continuing its corporatisation and privatisation efforts to ensure continuity in the implementation of its core policies.
The corporatisation policy, he said, has shown results, the most significant being savings in the budget allocation due to the corporatisation of the Ports and Marine departments into the Maritime and Port Authority of Brunei Darussalam (MPABD) on September 28, 2017. A 20-per cent in savings was recorded for the budget provision of financial year 2018/2019 compared to the previous year due to this consolidation.
“We have achieved productivity and efficiency through the privatisation of Muara Port services. Under the control of Muara Port Company Sdn Bhd, the number of containers we handled in 2018 reached a record volume of 113,125 TEUs (20-foot equivalent unit), the highest recorded since 2013,” the minister explained.
“In line with this policy, the corporatisation of the Postal Services Department continues to be the main agenda of MTIC. This effort continues with the collaboration of Darussalam Assets Sdn Bhd, among other bodies, with regard to the preparation of business strategy and manpower management.
“The related legal process also runs simultaneously. Corporatisation of the Postal Services Department is slated to begin during financial year 2019/2020.”
The corporatisation of the postal services is aimed at facilitating e-commerce development in the country.
As for the land transport sector, several initiatives have been undertaken to increase accessibility to the public land transport services, including the implementation of the Improvement of Land Transportation System project done in collaboration with the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) to provide a more sustainable and integrated implementation model.
The implementation of this project, to be carried out with a BND10.5 million allocation under the financial year 2019/2020, is scheduled to commence in the second or third quarter of 2020. This project will see the use of the Intelligent Transport System (ITS), which will involve areas such as vehicle tracking, ensuring vehicle safety and providing customer information.
The minister highlighted the success of the local ride-hailing app DART, noting that it has seen an encouraging response from local consumers and tourists. “The DART service also supports one of the main thrusts under the Land Transport Masterplan, which is to reduce dependence on private vehicles,” he said.
Since its launch in May 2017, the DART app has been downloaded 32,000 times and has 30,000 active users now. The company has received over 120 applications to become DART drivers.
“To date, 64 of them have been approved by the Land Transport Department and they all comprise locals, with nine of them permanent residents. The remaining applications are still in process,” the minister said. He noted that the MTIC is also continuing its focus on safety, security and comfort of users in the civil aviation sector, to ensure the sector continues to be among the key catalysts for economic growth through aeronautical and non-aeronautical activities.
In this case, the policy towards the management of Brunei International Airport is being updated to make it more effective. This includes separating the functions of the Department of Civil Aviation within the regulatory and management aspects of the airport.
“This policy update takes into account the increase in passengers at Brunei International Airport, based on the 2008 Airport Masterplan. We have a total target of three million passengers by 2032,” the minister said.
According to statistics in 2018, the number of passengers handled by Brunei International Airport increased by 4.8 per cent, an equivalent of 1.88 million passengers.
Another core focus of MTIC policy is safety during travel. The minister urged all road users to do their part in ensuring road safety. He highlighted the National Road Safety Council’s main commitment to zero road fatalities is based on the ‘Blueprint Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020’ issued by the United Nations.
“From recorded data, there was a decrease of 44 per cent in the total loss of life from traffic accidents in 2018 compared to the average in the period from 2010 to 2017,” he said.
Safety in water travel is another area of concern. The minister said to achieve the implementation of a comprehensive water safety initiative, the MPABD continues to work with various parties to create greater awareness of water transport safety. Among the efforts include the distribution of safety jackets to water taxi operators.
With the provisions provided, the minister said the MTIC will strive to ensure that the transport and infocommunications sectors play their role as a catalyst and facilitator in the country’s development.