HM calls for creating pro-business environment
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam said the country needs to create a more “pro-business” environment in order to spur economic growth and create more job opportunities for locals in 2014.
In his annual New Year’s eve titah, the monarch said strategies need to be devised “urgently” to increase productivity in both the public and private sectors.
His Majesty said the business community must support government efforts by prioritising employment of local youth by offering them fair wages and benefits.
“Our objective is clear — to make the Sultanate truly pro-business, where our economy _insyAllah _will be able to grow and be sustainable with more employment opportunities... Indeed Brunei is in need of more job opportunities, especially in the private sector to address rising unemployment.”
The Ministry of Education has already adjusted the curriculum at technical and vocational schools to align with the skill requirements of the job market.
“This will ensure our youngsters who are seeking jobs will be able to get appropriate training for existing job vacancies,” His Majesty said. The monarch added that Brunei’s “ease of doing business” score had improved from 79th in 2012 to 59th in 2013, which should encourage the business community to make more reforms to facilitate more growth.
The government has managed to reduce the waiting time for 48 per cent of public housing applicants, said the monarch.
By 2014, more than 6,000 houses will be completed, bringing the total number of government-subsidised houses to 26,000. To speed up the provision of adequate housing, the government has also started to build high-rise housing units.
Many major infrastructure projects are currently under way in the Sultanate, His Majesty said, including increasing water storage capacity, water treatment facilities, and the construction of water channels to prevent flooding.
Improvements in road safety also continue, including widening and upgrading roads, the introduction of demerit point system and other road safety campaigns.
The government is also in the midst of preparing a transportation master plan to improve movement across the country. Projects include the construction of a bridge linking Brunei-Muara and Temburong, as well as a bridge across the Brunei River from Kg Sungai Kebun to Jalan Residency.
Health and environment
His Majesty said the government will not neglect its responsibility to protect the environment.
“It is only with a healthy environment the economic growth continue. To this end, legislation to protect the environment is being drafted. Its aims, among others, are to protect the environment and prevent pollution.”
In the field of healthcare, the monarch added that the government will accelerate the provision of infrastructure and services, as well as improve manpower issues.
Syariah Penal Code
In April 2014, the preliminary phase of the Syariah Penal Code will be implemented, bringing in _hudud _punishments for criminal offences.
His Majesty stressed the need for “people of all levels to strengthen their commitment to support its implementation”.
The monarch also thanked citizens from all sectors for making Brunei’s chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) a resounding success in 2013, “raising the image of the Sultanate in the eyes of our foreign guests.”
“During that period we are proud to have carried out our responsibility... Our success was attributed to our integrated planning, preparation and commitment,” His Majesty said
“This includes our being host to ASEAN summits in April and October, as well as organising a host of other ASEAN meetings, regionally and internationally.”
His Majesty said he was proud that Bruneians stepped up to provide humanitarian support to victims of Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most devastating natural disasters to hit the Philippines.
Ending his New Year titah, His Majesty expressed the “highest appreciation” to all members of public service and security forces for their sincere efforts in service of the country.
“My family and I wish a very happy New Year 2014 to all in this country. I pray may Allah (SWT) continue to bless and protect us all and our country.”
The Brunei Times