Legislative Council (LegCo) members yesterday unanimously approved the proposed Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) budget allocation of BND83,860,360 for normal expenditures and the National Development Plan amounting to BND14,458,840 for the fiscal year 2022-2023, following deliberations during the fifth day of the 18th Legislative Council (LegCo) Meeting.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin said the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a profound impact on the populace of Brunei Darussalam.
“Recognising this, the MCYS established Sukarelawan Belia in March 2020 to assist the nation in the fight against the pandemic. Over 8,000 youth volunteers have been registered since the operation, with between 600 to 800 volunteers mobilised daily to work daily across 143 important locations.
“Working in collaboration with government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and volunteers from other backgrounds, they have helped distribute food ration to over 31,000 households, covering nearly 170,000 individuals undergoing the quarantine order (QO) since August 2021 until today,” he said.
The volunteers also assist the needy through the food ration drive donation initiation. The public contributions corralled since September 2021 has resulted in the distribution of food ration to over 20,000 individuals.
“The resilient attitude and caring nature of the people of Brunei Darussalam, particularly volunteers and philanthropists, are very much appreciated and respected. Thank you to the volunteers sacrificing their time and energy, sticking by the motto ‘Bersama Kita Berjuang’,” Yang Berhormat Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan said.
The six strategic focus areas the MCYS will implement for the financial year 2022/2023 were also discussed.
The first is to strengthen acts and policies to improve customer service and the introduction of more inclusive impact intervention programme; the second strategy is to develop a progressive society, one that is united, resilient and caring; the third is to produce visionary youth as national development leaders; the fourth is strengthening self-identity and patriotism as the core of national development, based on Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB); the fifth focusses on strengthening an inclusive and excellent sports ecosystem; and the sixth being maximising the use of technology and infrastructure.
Some of the highlights of these strategies are the enforcement of the Old Age Pensions and Disability Allowance (Amendment) Act 2021 and the Disabled Persons Order, 2021 from October 1, 2021 by updating the eligibility requirements for recipients of Old Age Pension and Disability Allowance, ensuring allowances are given to those who are truly eligible.
Yang Berhormat Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan shared that 42,793 were listed as recipients of Old Age Pension and Disability Allowance as of March 2022, bringing the total cumulative payment for financial year 2021/2022 to approximately BND120 million. The amendment to the Act also introduces additional benefits to disabled senior citizens, for which, 208 people have received two benefits – the old age pension and disability allowance.
Additionally, the amendment introduced a care provider allowance for those who qualify. A total of 1,567 applications have been received and are being evaluated by the Disability Allowance Application Evaluation Committee.
Meanwhile, the Persons with Disabilities Order 2021 ensures that persons with disabilities (OKU) receive appropriate recognition and protection. The national definition of OKU based on Article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that includes physical, mental, intellectual or senses, in addition to behaviour, communication and development.
The order also introduced the National Registration for the Disabled, and the Disabled Card to assist in efforts to ensure people with disabilities are always taken care of.
A total of 1,695 applications were received and 138 OKU were confirmed to be registered under the National Registration.
The order also provides specific protection conditions for OKU. Severe punishment will be dealt for offences committed against OKU, such as abuse and neglect, the minister said.
Meanwhile, the minister said BND15.5 million has been allocated for programmes aimed at strengthening the sport ecosystem.
It is intended to create a stable athlete environment; developing sports with the potential to win medals; developing athletes; creating conducive infrastructure and ensuring the inclusion of sports for all.
“We are conducting a high-performance sports needs assessment – encompassing infrastructure, manpower and expertise, equipment and technology, and added value to improve athlete performance – with the sports exercise and medicine consultant specialist at the Ministry of Health. These findings will determine the high-performance sports strategy and action plan targetted to be completed by April 2022 for a two-year implementation period,” Yang Berhormat Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan said.