Gov’t to undertake spending reforms

National 2 minutes, 28 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE government will be implementing reforms in its spending as economic uncertainty from falling oil prices has resulted in decreased flexibility for the government to spend on development projects, the second finance minister said.

Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdul Rahman Hj Ibrahim said a ‘Programme and Performance Budgeting’ (PBB) approach will replace the former “input-based budgeting approach”.

Through the new budgeting approach, the spending of ministries and its departments will be considered “based on outcomes or core functions” of the said department and agencies.

It would ensure the structure of financial resources for the sultanate will be sustainable, the minister said during the 12th LegCo session.

He said government agencies must make changes to their spending habits. “About 70 per cent of the total government expenditure is inflexible spending.

“For example, the allocation of salaries for civil servants accounts for about 30 per cent of the total amount of expenditure,” said YB Pehin Dato Hj Abdul Rahman.

He said the large amount of inflexible spending used in funding government operations leaves a small margin for development projects.

“The government must be strict in controlling its spending to minimise wastage in finances and energy,” the minister said.

“Priority spending” should also be practised whereby government agencies must make thorough planning on their spending and ensure the key performance indicators are met.

He said priority spending would also ensure the government will not use too much from the reserve funds.

“Priority spending must be put into practice to ensure our reserves will be restricted to generate more economic activities into the country through foreign direct investments so as to support the country’s development.

“Evaluate the services that can be outsourced to the private sector as a way to facilitate public-private partnership and others,” he said, adding that government agencies and the public should be more conscious of wasting money and electricity in government buildings and public facilities.

The minister said being more conscious would reduce the burden of subsidies shouldered by the government, especially electricity.

He also urged government agencies to reinforce the collection of arrears for public services by the private sector that currently totals up to $390 million.

“If we continue with this ‘business as usual’ attitude where all parties are relying on the government to provide assistance and hand out business opportunities, our economy and government finances cannot be sustained,” said YB Pehin Dato Hj Abdul Rahman.

Meanwhile, Temburong Legislative Council member YB Hj Sulaiman Hj Ahad in his vote of thanks called for meaningful discussions to decrease the country’s dependence on oil and gas and seek other means of generating revenue.

“The means by which we can approach this is through proper discussions so that we may be able to solve these issues in the best way possible. In relation to this, I believe we will be able to come together and identify the cause and status of our issues,” he said.

The Brunei Times