‘Help lift villagers out of poverty’

National 2 minutes, 1 second

BRUNEI-MUARA

VILLAGE chiefs need to be more proactive in organising events that help provide opportunities for underprivileged families to market their products and earn an income, the head of Kg Sg Matan said.

Pg Hj Rahman Pg Hj Zainal said village heads should hold discussions with their residents in producing business ideas that can help combat poverty and reduce unemployment.

In an interview on the sidelines of the five-day Sg Matan Fishing Festival yesterday, he said applicants for the zakat (tithe) funds have decreased in his village as a result of events that provide an opportunity for villagers to earn an income.

There were previously 37 residents who were registered as poor and destitute with the Brunei Islamic Religious Council in 2006. However, this has lowered to just seven applicants recently, he added.

The commitment of village heads in helping the residents find ways of doing business would eventually lift the villagers out of poverty, said Pg Hj Abd Rahman.

Pg Hj Rahman, who previously worked at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, went on to say that the Sg Matan Fishing Festival, which started as a mini fishing project in 2006, has become more popular with sales of local products.

“Fishermen from other districts and foreigners come to this village because of the fishing festival. Moreover, the seafood products are processed by (villagers here) that make it interesting and unique,” said the 67-year-old village chief.

“In the carnival, we have different packages to visitors. There are demonstrations of various fishing methods by fishermen and his family members. In a way, this shows visitors about the importance of family values,” he said.

Visitors would also have the opportunity to participate in fishing activities.

The festival, which is held for the first time, aimed to introduce the villagers’ products to the world, said Pg Hj Rahman, who has been a village head since 2006.

“To date, some of the seafood products coming from our village have been ordered for events and ceremonies across the Sultanate. Sometimes, the pre-order can reach up to 4,000 boxes of seafood products,” he said.

In addition, he said some residents earn an income by renting out their rooms to visitors who wish to experience homestay at the village and learn the lifestyles of Bruneians.

Kg Sg Matan, which has won a number of medals at the Excellent Village Awards, has received over 3,600 visitors this year, including 433 foreigners.

The fishing festival ends today.

The Brunei Times