Agricultural growth can help raise living standard: HM
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
HIS MAJESTY the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday gave priority to agriculture in raising the country's standard of living and highlighted it as an important area in diversifying the economy.
Agriculture's aim is to fulfil the residents' needs, whereby it can also be commercialised locally and globally, His Majesty said in his titah at the opening of the fourth State Legislative Council meeting at the new building named Dewan Majlis.
His Majesty, who is also the nation state's Prime Minister, posed the question of how far has the country's agriculture sector grown, as all countries in the world depend on agriculture as a source of food.
"Are we currently experiencing positive growth or otherwise?" the monarch asked.
His Majesty said that the media have reported on leaders and other government officials visiting paddy fields together with the citizens.
"What is our conclusion from this experience?"
"For example, has our infrastructure for farm plantations reached the benchmark standards of developed farms?" His Majesty further asked.
The monarch said that encouragement must be given if Brunei has indeed achieved the standards, and guidance is crucial if the country has yet to experience favourable results.
His Majesty said that residents' income per capita is promising since Brunei gained independence in 1984.
In 1994, the income per capita increased from $ 23,502, and continued to surge until it reached $47, 964 in 2006, thereby contributing to the citizens' welfare and standard of living.
"This should imply that the rate of poverty is decreasing," His Majesty continued.
"Based on this, has it not crossed our mind to set a specific aim in our vision to reduce the country's poverty rate to zero level?"
His Majesty expressed confidence that Brunei can achieve this aim, while the State Legislative Council can play its role as a guide on how to achieve this vision.
The State Leader hoped that the long-term development, named Vision Brunei 2035, would produce Bruneians who are highly knowledgeable and skilled, as well as achieve a competitive and dynamic economy. This vision also stressed on creating job opportunities needed in the country, His Majesty said.
His Majesty also called on State Legislative Council members to be forward thinking in their deliberations, and discuss strategic issues that benefit the public.
"The quality of discussions should be substantive, and based on accurate research facts," the monarch said.
His Majesty said he will continue to monitor the proceedings of the meeting, and hoped that the State Legislative Council will serve as a platform to trigger constructive new ideas.
"Since the reopening of the council on September 25, 2004, I have received encouraging comments and feedback on this," His Majesty said.
The Brunei Times