The government through the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MOFE) has introduced Brunei Darussalam’s Economic Blueprint as a guideline for the country’s economic direction towards achieving the third goal of Brunei Vision 2035, which is to be a dynamic and sustainable economy. 

The Economic Blueprint is aimed to help the sultanate to move away from a highly dependent oil and gas economy, providing more meaningful and high-value employment opportunities for the Bruneian people, while harnessing the latest technology in line with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). 

“The preparation of this Economic Blueprint has taken into account the views and perspectives of relevant stakeholders namely the government and the private sector through the consultation sessions which have been conducted,” said MOFE in a press statement. 

Image: Courtesy of MoFe

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, in a titah on the formulation of the Brunei Darussalam Economic Blueprint, said that as Brunei Vision 2035 looms closer, Brunei needs to accelerate further in its progress towards economic development and growth. 

“Several efforts towards diversifying our economy have been put in place through increasing local business development and Government-Linked Companies as well as attracting foreign direct investments,” said the monarch. 

“Recent years have seen positive growths in both our Gross Domestic Product and exports, with encouraging developments particularly in food, downstream oil and gas as well as manufacturing sectors,” he continued. 

His Majesty the Sultan then added that in order to realise the vision of a dynamic and sustainable economy, all parties must work together in a whole of nation approach, however he reminded that in our pursuit of progressing development goals, “we must continue to uphold our Melayu Islam Beraja (MIB) values”.

“I hope that this economic blueprint will serve as impetus to a growing economy, underpinned by strong governance, resilient and thriving businesses able to harness economic opportunities created by the 4IR allowing for increased innovation, productivity and competitiveness along with the emergence of new industries,” he went on to say. 

Image: Courtesy of MoFe

“Insya’ Allah, through our solidarity and collective efforts, the prosperity we have achieved over the years will continue and can be enjoyed together by our future generation,” concluded the monarch. 

Image: Courtesy of MoFe
Image: Courtesy of MoFe

To achieve the objectives set out through the Economic Blueprint, four (4) main macroeconomic goals have been identified; 

– High and sustainable economic growth that is not affected by any economic uncertainties. 

– Economic diversification which is to increase the contribution of the non-oil and gas sector. 

– Macroeconomic stability which is among others moderate inflation, fiscal sustainability and trade surplus. 

– Low unemployment rate. 

Subsequently, to ensure that the aforementioned goals are achieved, six aspirations have been outlined in the Economic Blueprint, each with its own set of strategic priorities and policy directions; 

Image: Courtesy of MoFe

– Productive and vibrant businesses

– Skilled, adaptable and innovative people 

– Open and globally connected economy 

– Sustainable environment 

– High quality and competitive economic infrastructure 

– Good governance and public service excellence 

Productive and Vibrant Businesses

This aspiration aims to enhance efforts in increasing the contributions of the non-oil and gas sector by discovering new economic activities as well as strengthening five priority sectors; downstream oil and gas, food, tourism, info-communications and technology (ICT) and services. 

Image: Courtesy of MoFe

Among the strategic priorities outlined under this aspiration include widening the export base in the non-oil and gas sector to diversify the economy as well as to promote the internationalisation of companies, by facilitating local businesses to export their products and expanding their operations overseas. 

Based on statistics provided within the Economic Blueprint, the non-oil and gas private sector grew on average by 2.6 per cent in the last decade however, its overall contribution to GDP was less than 30 per cent. 

The number of MSMEs have also increased by about 3.4 per cent from the 5,248 MSMEs in 2015 to the 5,990 MSMEs in 2019. 

This aspiration also aims to create high value-added activities by leveraging on emerging technologies and competitiveness while also fostering innovation and technology-driven businesses to increase productivity and competitiveness. 

Ultimately, the hope for creating productive and vibrant businesses is to ultimately encourage businesses to create meaningful employment especially for locals towards a more productive and competitive workforce. 

Image: Courtesy of MoFe

Skilled, Adaptive and Innovative People

This aspiration wants to ensure that the local workforce is future-ready and highly productive as “rapid globalisation and technological advancements have altered the way people and businesses interact with one another”. 

Part of the policy direction for this aspiration is digital inclusiveness education and training programmes for all levels of citizens while promoting continuous learning, training and reskilling to ensure the local workforce remain relevant and adaptable to the changing industry needs. 

“Skilled, adaptable and innovative people with the right mentality will also lead to a generation of more entrepreneurial talents that can capture more opportunities,” said the ministry. 

In 2019, a total of 147,442 locals were employed in 2019, with 50.5 per cent or 74,419 individuals of locals being employed in the private sector. 

“This will also help build resilience in human capital in driving growth amid the unpredictable changes in the global economic landscape,” they added. 

Image: Courtesy of MoFe

Open and Globally and Connected Economy

This aspiration is aimed to enable Brunei Darussalam to be recognised as an open and globally connected economy through increased market access opportunities, diversified and deepened economic partnerships  with strategic counterparts to strengthen trade cooperation and reduce barriers to trade. 

“Brunei Darussalam is already a significant party to various trade agreements and has established  strong international connections and partnerships as reflected through its memberships in multiple international organisations,” the ministry explained. 

Image: Courtesy of MoFe
Image: Courtesy of MoFe

“Essentially, this allows for increasing participation of our local businesses in overseas market as well as attracting new potential investments in the country,” they said. 

This aspiration is to ultimately position the sultanate as an investment and trade-friendly destination to establish new trade opportunities and attract FDIs.  

Statistics showed that the exports of goods and services account for about 60.5 per cent of the country’s total GDP in the last 10 years. Additionally, as of 2019, FDI stock in Brunei amounted to BND$9.6 million. 

High Quality and Competitive Economic Infrastructure

This aspiration looks to establish a high quality and competitive infrastructure in line with the fast-changing environment and rapid global growth in today’s world. 

Image: Courtesy of MoFe

It ensures a well-connected land, sea and air transportation network that can facilitate efficient movement of goods, services as well as people to promote growth, increase productivity and enhance market access and opportunities. 

This aspiration also aims to provide infrastructure-ready industrial sites such as water, power, telecommunications and gas needed by FDIs and local companies to make setting up of businesses more convenient and attractive. 

All the while providing digital-ready infrastructure  that will improve the sultanate’s quality of life, productivity, interconnectivity and staying relevant in teh fast-changing economic environment. 

Additionally, private sector investment in social and industrial infrastructure are encouraged through public-private-partnerships (PPP), which will increase private sector involvement in capital spending and improve operational efficiency.

This article was first published on January 9, 2021 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 123

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN 

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