Prime Minister’s Office to get budget allocation of $566m

National 1 minute, 46 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has a proposed budget allocation of $566 million for fiscal year 2016/17, it was revealed during the meeting yesterday of the 12th Session of the Legislative Council (LegCo).

Second Finance Minister YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdul Rahman Hj Ibrahim said the allocations for each department under PMO are based on programme and performance budgeting.

PMO last year received a proposed budget of $634 million.

YB Pehin Dato Hj Abdul Rahman said that under the proposed budget, staff salaries amount to $337 million; recurring expenses total $216 million; and special expenditures add up to $13 million.

State broadcaster Radio Televisyen Brunei will get an allocation of $46 million, the Civil Service Department $30 million, while the Information Department and Audit Department around $6 million each.

The Department of Councils is allotted $2.5 million, while the Adat Istiadat Department $3.1 million.

YB Pehin Dato Hj Abdul Rahman, who is also a minister at PMO, said the budget allocation for certain departments – namely the Internal Security Department, Royal Brunei Police Force, Brunei Research Department, Narcotics Control Bureau, and Anti-Corruption Bureau – were “sensitive matters” pertaining to national security and would not be discussed openly.

LegCo Member YB Datin Paduka Hjh Salbiah Hj Sulaiman asked the minister whether there would be a “hiring freeze” given the drastic decrease in government revenue on the back of weak oil prices.

She said spending on civil servants had increased by 30 per cent, according to 2014 statistics, and asked whether it would be better to privatise some public services.

The second finance minister replied that the government was already in the process of privatising some services, and that a hiring freeze only applied to positions that had been vacant for some time and deemed “non-essential”.

“This proposed freeze will not affect succession planning… The number of civil servants who retired at the end of December 2015 is approximately 1,012. The vacant positions will be filled through succession planning and other means,” he said.

YB Pehin Dato Hj Abdul Rahman said despite low government revenue and current economic challenges, the PMO would continue to support efforts to expand and diversify the economy.

The Brunei Times