Brunei Needs To Zero In On Few Winning Sectors


By Sobrina Rosh

Bandar Seri
– Clear guidelines are needed for the business
community to know, which specific sectors the government wants to
develop as winners in its economic diversification goal, a banker
said yesterday.

“The government needs to plan a
framework to allow private sector to determine the relevant sectors”
that it wants to see flourish, Tareq Muhmood, chief executive
officer of HSBC Brunei, told The Brunei Times.

And if it wants this to work, the
government will have to zero: in on a few sectors or “business’
initiatives” where it wishes to see winners emerge, he added.

Such clear guidelines can also make
it easier for businessmen to develop and establish niche markets, he

Business areas that the government
may look into as potential winners are tourism, halal food
production and halal certification services, Tareq said.

On the other hand, the business
sector should not be too dependent on government support to see
their enterprises succeed.

“The private sector also has the
responsibility to make things happen,” Tareq said. “You sit and ask
why the ministries are not doing this and that, but that is not in
our control. You have to look at what is in our control and work on

The private sector, he explained,
can be more pro-active by holding brainstorming sessions on relevant
topics such as through the chambers of commerce. A group effort is
more effective in either developing a sector or proposing ways to
address concerns that affect business growth.

“In other countries what I have
seen is that these chambers (of commerce) are used for private
sectors to share and agree on ideas and then as a coherent whole
they try, and facilitate change,” the HSBC Brunei chief said. “I
haven’t seen much of that here … These sectors can make life and
the economy easier.”

Forums such as the Asia Inc
National Business conference held last year allow the business
chambers to raise issues that potentially lead to positive action.

“These chambers (of commerce) can
allow things to be added as well as agree on required action plans,”
he said, citing as example the drafting of plans relating to
legislative issues. Certain legislative issues related to business
development, that businessmen would like to see passed or acted upon
can be done by stronger joint efforts of chamber members in seeking
for dialogues with relevant government agencies.

“It could help the private sector
tremendously, these are one of the real keys of opportunities that
need to be developed,” he added. This could lead to more effective
results from economic diversification efforts, he added.
— Courtesy of
The Brunei Times