Steered towards poverty eradication

James Kon

Through the National Plan of Action on the Eradication of Poverty, Brunei Darussalam has undertaken several strategies to strengthen the social protection system, by employing a whole-of-nation approach.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin said this at the 12th ASEAN Ministers Meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication (AMRDPE) yesterday, hosted virtually by the Philippines.

The meeting was chaired by National Anti-Poverty Commission, the Philippines cum 12th AMRDPE Chairman Noel K Felongco and attended by ASEAN Secretary-General and ASEAN ministers responsible for rural development and poverty eradication.

Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan listed several strategies that included improving social service access and delivery across all sectors, with initiatives that include the digitalisation of registrations and applications for welfare assistance through the National Welfare System (SKN) by utilising business intelligence; short-term financial assistance for self-employed or freelance workers affected by COVID-19; and plans to integrate applications for in-kind educational assistance, old age pensions, disability allowances and housing into the SKN.

Meanwhile, the provision of affordable housing remains one of the key government priorities, with over 30,000 homes built under the National Housing Scheme, and more than 800 homes being built for the underprivileged, with assistance from relevant agencies. This brings more low income families closer towards breaking the poverty cycle and builds a self-reliant community.

On leveraging on digital transformation strategies to enhance economic recovery of vulnerable groups, the minister said, “e-commerce platforms play a critical role during the pandemic. Not only does it help micro businesses and service providers, but it also allows non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to fundraise and mobilise causes to assist those in need. It is therefore essential that the AMRDPE works to address the digital divide in supporting post-pandemic recovery, not only to stimulate economic activities, but also to support the educational needs of vulnerable groups, especially accessibility for those living in remote and rural areas”.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin during the 12th ASEAN Ministers Meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication. PHOTO: MCYS

On the subject of providing skills training to cultivate self-reliance and resilience among targetted groups, he said, “Skilling, upskilling and reskilling able-bodied and able-to-work welfare recipients and their dependents remains a top priority, focussing on increasing their marketability through training and education, grants and free-of-charge or low-cost incubators to start and run their businesses.

“Through partnerships with the Manpower Planning and Employment Council and DARe (Darussalam Enterprise), the priority towards lifelong learning for all will ensure readiness for the future of work in the post-pandemic era.”

Towards realising Brunei Vision 2035, particularly in achieving the goal of having the populace enjoy a high quality of life, Brunei Darussalam will be developing a social blueprint that consolidates national strategies for a social protection system that are inclusive and sustainable.

“As ASEAN embarks on the journey to overcome the effects of the pandemic, we need to ensure that our vulnerable groups are not left behind in our recovery. This will be vital to realise the ASEAN Care Economy as we kick start the implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework,” Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan said.

He highlighted that the National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme is extended to all, both in urban and rural areas, with statistics showing that over 93 per cent of the populace have received at least the one dose of the vaccine, while almost 80 per cent have been fully vaccinated.

Themed ‘Accelerating Recovery and Strengthening Resiliency of ASEAN for Sustainable Rural Development and Poverty Eradication,’ the 12th AMRDPE reaffirmed the commitment to promote rural development and poverty eradication in the ASEAN region, pursuant to the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint 2025, the ASEAN Declaration on the Gender-Responsive Implementation of ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and Sustainable Development Goals, and the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework.