Brunei Darussalam has entered a new phase of growth and development in its renewed efforts to diversify its economy. The focus is on industries that capitalise on the country’s strengths and has the ability to grow the economy, provide quality and sustainable job opportunities. These include the Islamic banking and finance, Brunei Halal brand, and specialised or niche tourism based on Islamic religion, local culture, heritage, as well as pristine rainforest.
In his titah at the opening ceremony for the 11th Session of the Legislative Council this year, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam stated that priority should be given to discussions on employment opportunities for locals, entrepreneurship development and efforts to boost the country’s economic fundamentals amid uncertainties in the global economy. The message is clear: We need to refocus our efforts on promoting localised employment, facilitating capacity building/training and encouraging entrepreneurship.
His Majesty’s Government is committed to promoting localised employment as well as human capacity building and knowledge transfer which is evident through the introduction of a financial assistance scheme in 2014 that encourages foreign direct investment (FDI) companies to employ locals and help reduce their training costs for the skills and knowledge development of these locals. Activities must be classified as high technology, manufacturing, research or export-oriented.
The mission of the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) is to grow and diversify Brunei Darussalam’s economy by attracting investments and strengthening and empowering local businesses through research and innovation.
Inflows of FDI will help stimulate the export industry, diversify our economy, create business opportunities for local SMEs and create employment that can contribute to economic growth. Through various initiatives, BEDB has successfully attracted 11 more FDI projects in manufacturing, agriculture, logistics, pharmacy and aquaculture, which are currently in various stages of implementation. Total investment for these projects is estimated at B$6.9 billion and is expected to generate 2,462 jobs where 1,785 jobs will be filled by locals. Investors have been attracted by the low cost, stable and professional business environment available in Brunei Darussalam as well as the country’s position as a strategic hub and gateway to the wider dynamic and fast growing ASEAN market. Bulletin Yearbook 2015. I hope readers, foreign and local, will find the yearbook useful and informative.
Our nation’s economic stimulus also relies heavily on growth in the strength and competitiveness of our local businesses, which are also key to achieving our Vision 2035 targets. In response, BEDB, through its Enterprise 100 Transformation Programme, is assisting promising local enterprises to achieve sustainable growth to develop them into multinational companies, comparable and benchmarked with international public-listed companies. We hope to build a core group of promising local enterprises that can collectively generate total revenue of B$1 billion within five to 10 years, which would have a positive impact on the nation’s economic growth. This programme uses an intervention approach in a manner of venture capitalist in which the investor plays an active role in managing and structuring transformation and growing the company by taking a stake in the company and having a seat on the board.
His Majesty’s Government through BEDB also offers various initiatives and capacity building programmes to enhance the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in order to increase the number of high potential businesses. This includes grant schemes to assist aspiring entrepreneurs to start businesses, as well as innovators and inventors with robust business ideas in creating prototypes that have convincing potential for being commercialised.
I urge our local SMEs and startups to step out of their comfort zones, take advantage of market opportunities beyond our borders and to strategise their businesses towards a global outlook.
By working together to develop our nation and provide our people with economic opportunities, we will succeed in achieving our goals for Vision 2035. Insya Allah.
Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong
DEPUTY MINISTER AT THE PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE AND
CHAIRMAN OF THE BRUNEI ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
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