The second day of the First Meeting of the 18th Legislative Council (LegCo) session saw motions being deliberated and heard words of appreciation and the show of strong support for the titah 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.
Among the motions were from LegCo member Yang Berhormat Haji Mohimin bin Haji Johari @ Jahari, who called for the implementation of economic empowerment for youth through skills training with guaranteed employment and the provision for initial business capital for a micro start-up business of between BND30,000 to BND50,000; the need to empower businesses managed and run by local entrepreneurs; and the proposal to review the registration of small sendirian berhad (Sdn Bhd) companies that do not meet the Corporate Income Tax Act.
Yang Berhormat Haji Mohimin also called for the Sultanate to have access to direct payment facilities for youth wishing to engage as YouTubers in the country as it is widely known that foreign YouTubers benefit from activities and market opportunities in the virtual world are vast and without boundaries.
Meanwhile, LegCo member Yang Berhormat Siti Rozaimeriyanty binti Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Abdul Rahman said the COVID-19 pandemic did not stop the economic development planning of all parties from achieving fiscal resilience as seen through the launch of several strategic plans, frameworks and the latest policies by the ministries in formulating plans for better national changes needed to be achieved in the direction of Brunei Vision 2035.
Referring to the National Development Plan (RKN) projects, Yang Berhormat Siti Rozaimeriyanty touched on His Majesty’s titah regarding government-owned buildings that are abandoned and no longer in use that should be addressed holistically by stakeholders, so that the assets can be utilised while minimising waste. The LegCo member proposed for these vacant and idle assets to be given special attention and re-examined the purposes for which they were constructed to avoid wastage of valuable assets. She shared suggestions to repurpose the buildings and use them as shared facilities, thus saving government expenditure under the 12th RKN12; open up the assets for lease or public-private partnership (PPP) to potential parties in the private sector; and involve the whole-of-government approach as a project involving several ministries, and not just one.
“Brunei Vision 2035 has only 13 years left, that is, only two RKN, which include RKN12 and RKN13. Although we have seen some projects move progressively, these projects still lack effective monitoring and implementation,” said Yang Berhormat Siti Rozaimeriyanty.
Meanwhile, LegCo member Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa binti Haji Ash’ari highlighted that the second and third waves of the COVID-19 outbreak not only brought various challenges to society, but also accelerated digital transformation that enabled government and private services to go online.
“However, it also comes with its own challenges as the poverty gap widens where the underprivileged have difficulty accessing devices and the Internet,” she said. “What can be learnt through this experience is that we can already examine the suitability of a progressive employment system where ‘remote working’ or ‘flexible hours’ can be introduced as one of the new approaches in the world of work even after this pandemic is no longer a factor.”
Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa also touched on other issues still faced by the public, such as the payment gateway to enable the public to receive online payments from abroad to encourage the online business sector, increasingly of interest especially among youth; the limited participation and involvement from youth due to socio-economic factors that remain a challenge; and issues of unemployment and underemployment, especially for graduates who are still under scholarship.
LegCo member Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Hamid @ Sabli bin Haji Arsad also delivered his motion, touching on the RKN12 in which he said an important aspect is the development of the country, especially strategic and holistic fiscal from all angles.
The LegCo member said it involves an active role from various parties to ensure that the country is able to become prosperous and resilient in terms of economy, environment and social balance to ensure the well-being of the populace as a whole.
One of the important features is to have a key instrument to attract investments to create an investor-friendly environment, he said, which directly creates job opportunities for graduates who have completed their studies on top of planning for local business growth.
The LegCo member also touched on the Employees Trust Fund (TAP) study, which he hopes to provide the best solution for the social security of recipients after retiring; and on food security as one of the agendas that need to be given attention to restore the country’s economy.
Meanwhile, LegCo member Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Hamid bin Haji Mumin touched on key resource areas such as agriculture, agri-food, fisheries and livestock. He shared that paddy farmers in villages, especially in Belait District, hope for basic facilities for their paddy fields from the ministry in charge, and for the ministry to visit and give further care in upgrading the paddy fields such as in aspects of water drainage maintenance leading to tributary or streams to overcome floods that inundate the paddy fields, especially those in Belait District which have previously occurred.
The LegCo member, in his motion, also commended the establishment of the Temburong District Development Authority that has planned various developments in the district, and hopes the authority will be expanded to other districts so that each district has consistent developmental progress.