$2.2 million allocated for cooperative devt

National 1 minute, 25 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

A BUDGET of $2.2 million has been allocated for the "cooperative development scheme", with several initiatives the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources will be embarking to facilitate the development of cooperatives in the country.

Speaking during the State Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting yesterday, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Hj Yahya Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar said this total included $800,000 to build a training centre for cooperatives, $1 million for the establishment of a complex for cooperatives in Batu Apoi in Temburong and $400,000 to formulate a plan, which will stipulate strategies to develop cooperatives in the country.

The minister laid out these figures in response to a LegCo member's query regarding the details of the budget for cooperative development for April 2009 to March 2010.

Noting that there were presently 154 registered cooperatives in Brunei, Dato Paduka Hj Puasa Orang Kaya Seri Pahlawan Tudin also suggested that cooperatives could only apply for loans for projects and the set-up of businesses or enterprises from the government in an amount not exceeding $50,000. He said that if a cooperative wished to borrow more than that amount or if their projects or business was not related to the fisheries or agriculture sectors, the cooperatives would have to borrow from banks, which impose higher rates of interest.

Dato Hj Puasa asked if existing schemes provided to SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises), which provide low interest rates of four per cent, could be extended to cooperatives.

"The time has come for the relevant authority to provide a larger allocated fund for the development of cooperatives in this country... with a low interest rate," he said.

The Brunei Times