Brunei To Run Into $1.65B Budget Deficit

By M K Anwar & Narissa Noor

Bandar Seri Begawan – The 2009-2010
budget will see the government running into a deficit of $1.65
billion after the revenue for the fiscal year is projected to drop
significantly to $4,000,367,000 compared $5.602 billion projected
for the 2008/2009 fiscal year.

Meanwhile, a sum of
$4,985,785,600 has been proposed for the 2009-2010
budgets which is an increase of $200 million compared to
the 2008/2009 financial year

. It was outlined yesterday
during the Legislative Council session.

According to the
Minister Finance II, the strengthening of the fiscal
policy to achieve a sustainable fiscal position
continues to be the main priority for the new budget.

This is aimed at
generating sustainable development and economic growth.

Towards achieving a
long-term strategic goal, the objective of the 2009/2010
budget will concentrate on several factors such as
ensuring that the nation’s fiscal position continues to
strengthen and be sustainable. It also aims to increase
the effectiveness of plans in eradicating poverty in the

Increasing government
revenue by strengthening collection and reduce arrears,
which on March 2008 stood at $475.8 million, and also to
research on the level of payments for services given to
the low income group so as not to burden them will be
looked into.

Moves will be made to
increase the competitiveness of the nation’s investment

and economic environment to attract Foreign Direct
Investment, especially by multinational corporations,
into the country.

To achieve this, the
minister stated that several strategies, procedures and
processes would be adopted in preparing the budget
allocation for every government ministries and agencies.

This involves
maintaining a fiscal discipline by ensuring that the
budget follows the finance allocated, giving priority to
projects and in general ensuring value for money through
efficient and effective use of the budget, ensure the
abilities and capabilities of project implementations
and make ministries and departments accountable in using
the allocation.

The 2009-2010 budget
will see the government face a deficit with the
projected revenue set at around $4 billion, but the
minister was confident that with concerted efforts, the
government can still afford to finance all the planned
expenditure using the nation’s income.

For defence and public
security, a total of $1.04 billion or 18.5 per cent of
the budget has been allocated. The government has also
earmarked $10 million for contingency, for any unplanned
expenditure. And in line with the titah made by His
Majesty at the opening the Legislative Council, $30
million will also be allocated for the improvement,
upgrading and maintenance of public infrastructure and
facilities such as drainage, water supply, electricity
supply and communication system.

With regards to the
eradication of poverty, the Minister of Finance II said
that $10 million has been allocated for the collection
and gathering of relevant data and information so that
the effort to achieve zero poverty can be made
efficiently and implemented comprehensively.

Meanwhile, $340.95
million has been allocated in increasing the level of
medical and health services in the country and this
includes for the provision of medicines, ambulances and
equipment for hospitals and health centres.

Towards improving the
welfare of the people, $680 million has been provided
for the construction of basic public facilities and
infrastructure. Towards making the nation more
self-sufficient in food, $30 million has been provided
specifically to implement strategies and plan
effectively. The emphasis will be on increasing the
yield per hectare of padi using high yield varieties, 2
to 3 harvests per year, use of latest padi farming
technology and provision of infrastructures.

In developing and
consolidating the private sector, Pehin Dato Seri Setia
Hj Awg Abdul Rahman said that steps would be taken to
increase the competitiveness of the nation’s economy and
attract foreign investment.

To realise the
government’s efforts in developing the private sector,
$178.17 million has been earmarked for the relevant
agencies to plan and implement programmes.

The minister also said
that His Majesty has consented for the amendment
relating to the Income Tax Act (Chapter 35) where the
corporate tax from 2010 will be reduced to 23.5 per
cent. The employers’ contribution to the Employees
Provident Fund or TAP will also be considered as further
deductions in corporate tax.

In realising the
importance of human resource development in helping the
growth of the economy, the Minister of Finance II said a
large amount of allocation has been made in providing
education infrastructures in the country. The minister
added that this also includes providing scholarships for
students and civil servants to upgrade their educational
qualifications locally or abroad.

This effort is in line
with the nation’s Vision 2035 to have an educated,
highly skilled and successful citizen.

Overall, a total of
$1,060.9 million (18.76 per cent of the budget) has been
provided for agencies involved in human resources and
capacity development. Besides this, $120.89 million has
been allocated for the management, operation and
implementation of ICT in the country.
Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin