Market-friendly policies, rules key to investment promotion
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
BRUNEI needs to keep its processes and approaches to attracting investors market-driven so it can increase the inflow of investments.
This involves making sure that business guidelines actually help the country draw potential investments, Dato Timothy Ong, acting chairman of the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB), said in an interview with The Brunei Times. He cited a case in which the sultanate lost a potential investment.
"We wanted the biodiesel consortium to build a biodiesel plant in Brunei. But at the end of the day, they said, 'thanks but no thanks ... we can't afford the procedures' ... At the end of the day we have to be market-driven," he said.
"Brunei still has a long way to go (in the ranking on ease of doing business). We should simply take a look at the survey and address the challenges that were raised ... From there we can see something is wrong, so we can look carefully and see how we can improve in starting and operating businesses in Brunei," he added.
Necessary sectors for development, he said, have been identified and encouraged by the government as well as the BEDB. Still, it has to be ensured that this is market-driven, he said.
"We are market driven. Eventhough BEDB says 'invest in this sector', it doesn't mean businesses would invest in it ... I think public agencies make the mistake of saying 'these are our targeted sectors' ... (they) used to be referred to as industrial policies meaning that the government actually says that it wants you to invest in the specified sectors," he said.
"It generally doesn't work because at the end of the day the decision to invest is directly linked to the likely profitability and the risk involved in the particular area ... Business people will make their own calculations."
The Brunei Times