Upward shift for Brunei in multiple fronts

|     Danial Norjidi     |

THE results for various international studies covering a range of topics were released in February and included Brunei Darussalam in their findings.

One such study was Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). In this annual ranking of countries deemed to have the least corruption in the public sector, Brunei Darussalam moved up one place from the previous year to 31st globally.

As was reported on February 4, Brunei scored 63 on the CPI, which rates the extent of corruption in each nation using a scale that goes from zero to 100. Countries graded 50 or below are highly corrupt, while those that score 100 are virtually clean of corruption.

First published in 1995, the CPI ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to experts and business people. It draws on 13 surveys and expert assessments to derive a score for each country. The CPI measures public sector corruption including bribery, diversion of public funds, use of public office for private gain, and nepotism in the civil service.

Brunei Darussalam’s score of 63 is an improvement on its 2017 score of 62, and sees the country tied with Taiwan at 31st place in the latest CPI.

In ASEAN, Singapore ranked first, followed by Brunei. Malaysia ranked 61st globally, followed by Indonesia (89), the Philippines and Thailand (joint 99), Vietnam (117), Myanmar and Laos (joint 132), Cambodia (161).

Meanwhile, according to the eighth annual Digital Report 2019 commissioned by ‘Hootsuite’ and ‘We Are Social’, Brunei Darussalam is among 13 countries with the highest social media penetration at 410,000 users or 99 per cent of its ‘eligible’ population (aged 13 and above).

It reveals that the social media where Bruneians excelled was Instagram where they became the most users per population numbering 220,000 (or 63 per cent of its population aged 13 and above).

According to the latest available data by the report, the total number of monthly active Facebook ‘users’ in the country was 410,000, up by 11 per cent compared to in 2017. Of the number, 85 per cent of them accessed Facebook via mobile phones. The males dominated Facebook ‘users’ in the country at 56 per cent.

It was also shared that in the search engine Google, top queries in 2017 for Bruneians were ‘Brunei’, ‘Facebook’ and ‘YouTube’. Top websites in Brunei were google.com.bn, followed by youtube.com and google.com.

In another study – the 2019 Index of Economic Freedom (IEF) – Brunei Darussalam climbed seven places to 63rd globally and 14th regionally.

According to the index, which was drawn up by the Washington-based think-tank Heritage Foundation, Brunei Darussalam’s economic freedom score is 65.1, making its economy the 63rd freest in the 2019 Index. Its overall score has increased by 0.9 points, with significantly higher scores on property rights and tax burden exceeding trade freedom, government integrity, and judicial effectiveness.

As was reported on February 6, the study revealed that Brunei Darussalam is ranked 14th among 43 countries in the Asia–Pacific region, and that its overall score is above the regional and world averages.

It was shared that Hong Kong topped the rankings in this year’s IEF with 90.2 points followed by Singapore (89.4), New Zealand (84.4), Switzerland (81.9), Australia (80.9) and Ireland (80.5).

ASEAN member countries rank as follows: Singapore (2nd), Malaysia (22nd), Thailand (43rd), Indonesia (56th), Brunei (63rd), Philippines (70th), Cambodia (105th), Laos (110th), Vietnam (128th) and Myanmar (139th).

In the previous year’s index, the Sultanate was the 70th freest economy globally among 180 economies, with a score of 64.2 for economic freedom.

An additional study was the United States (US) Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Centre’s (GIPC) International Intellectual Property (IP) Index for this year, which analysed the IP climate in 50 world economies based on 45 indicators critical to an innovation-led economy.

As was reported on February 12, for the second year in a row the country maintained an upward trajectory in the ranking. In the latest edition of the International IP Index, Brunei’s rank rose to 34 out of 50 economies, an improvement of one place on its 35th position in 2018. The report was published last week.

Brunei’s overall score in the seventh edition of the Index increased substantially to 17.31 (out of a maximum score of 45) against 15.01 (out of 40) in the report’s sixth edition last year. It was shared that this reflects a relatively strong performance on the new indicators added to the Index, and a score increase on the new patent prosecution highway (PPH) agreement indicator.