‘$200 million subsidies used by foreigners’

National 1 minute, 15 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

A LEGISLATIVE Council (LegCo) member yesterday expressed concern over government subsidies, claiming that as many as $200 million were used by foreigners residing in the country.

Commenting on the $800 million provided by the government in annual subsidies, Yang Berhormat Hj Mohd Yusof Dulamin said that “subsidies totalling $200m were enjoyed by foreign nationals who make up around 25 per cent of the population”.

He questioned the government on the possibility of reducing or waiving the amount of subsidies used by foreigners in Brunei.

“I am very impressed by the efforts of Yang Berhormat Energy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, who has successfully curbed the selling of diesel fuel to vehicles that were registered outside of Brunei,” he said during the 10th LegCo session.

In a move to lessen the strain on government spending, YB Hj Mohd Yusof suggested that foreigners should pay unsubsidised prices for items such as fuel, electricity, medicine, rice among others.

According to a report from the Asian Development Bank, the fuel subsidy granted by the Sultanate is among the highest in Asia when considered as a share of its economy. Brunei spent US$470m on fuel subsidies in 2011, compared to US$340m in 2008.

Back in 2009, expert Dr Allan Layton said during a conference that heavy subsidy can affect economic growth as the amount of spending could be invested in developing infrastructure.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam had also cautioned against wasting and abusing subsidies in 2011.

The Brunei Times