In January 2021, the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) announced that 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 had consented to Brunei Darussalam’s Economic Blueprint: Towards a Dynamic and Sustainable Economy.
The blueprint was launched to plan the country’s economic direction towards achieving the third goal of Brunei Vision 2035 – a dynamic and sustainable economy.
In a statement, the MoFE said the success of the economic blueprint will help Brunei Darussalam to move from a highly dependent oil and gas economy to a dynamic and sustainable one with high-value job opportunities, harnessing the latest technology in line with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
The blueprint’s preparation took into account the views and perspectives of stakeholders, namely the government and the private sector through consultation sessions.
In achieving the objectives, four main macroeconomic goals are intended: high and sustainable economic growth unaffected by economic uncertainties; economic diversification to increase the contribution sectors beyond oil and gas; macroeconomic stability which includes moderate inflation, fiscal sustainability and trade surplus; and low unemployment rate.
In any development efforts, the nation will continue to be guided by the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB).
In ensuring that the goals will be achieved, six aspirations have been identified in the economic blueprint: productive and vibrant businesses; skilled, adaptable and innovative people; open and globally connected economy; sustainable environment; high quality and competitive economic infrastructure; and good governance and public service excellence.
For the first aspiration of productive and vibrant businesses, the MoFE stated in the blueprint, “We want our businesses to be able to compete, grow and sustain itself by exploring new markets and opportunities leveraging on technology and innovation. They are able to increase their productivity, enhance their competitiveness and penetrate international markets. These can be done through amongst others, strengthening the five priority sectors as engines for growth, exploring new future growth activities, promoting internalisation of local companies and adaptation of technologies.”
On the second aspiration of skilled, adaptable and innovative people, the country’s people must be marketable in the current economic needs and be future-ready. These can be achieved with well-coordinated manpower planning; continuous learning, training and reskilling; and fostering the ‘Bekarih, Bejarih, Belurih’ and receptive-to-change mentality.
In its elaboration of the third aspiration – open and globally connected economy – the MoFE said it wants businesses to penetrate external markets and attract foreign businesses. “Our exports will be diversified with increased outputs from priority sectors. The role of trade facilitation will be integral in providing market access and opportunities for local companies.”
For the fourth aspiration, sustainable environment, the ministry will remain mindful of preserving the environment in pursuit of economic progress.
The blueprint highlights the importance of a well-connected transportation and digital network; reliable and uninterrupted electricity and water supply; and infrastructure-ready industrial sites. These are needed to support businesses and achieve all the aspirations.
The country’s status as the Green Gem in the Heart of Borneo can be conserved by venturing into sustainable development – green and blue economy – in addition to reducing its carbon footprint. Regarding the fifth aspiration for high quality and competitive economic infrastructure, the blueprint highlights the importance of a well-connected transportation and digital network; reliable and uninterrupted electricity and water supply; and infrastructure-ready industrial sites. These are needed to support businesses and achieve all the aspirations.
“Lastly, in ensuring a conducive business environment, our governance and public services need to be transparent, accountable and adherent to rule of law,” said the MoFE on the sixth aspiration – good governance and public service excellence. “Our lean, modern and efficient governance will also strengthen the country’s fiscal position.”
The MoFE highlighted that a collaborative whole-of-nation approach is important to achieve these aspirations. The private sector will serve as the driving force of the country’s economy, whereas the government sector will continue facilitating the country’s development. Investors in the country and overseas have a role in introducing new industries while members of the public must practice the culture of ‘Berkarih, Bejarih, Belurih’.
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