MoFAT proposes $124.94m budget

National 2 minutes, 51 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MoFAT) has proposed a budget of $124.94 million for the 2016/2017 fiscal year, down 17 per cent from its proposed budget of $151.85 million in the previous fiscal year.

During the 12th Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting yesterday, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II and Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng said the new proposed budget would also be allocated to fund Brunei’s 43 foreign missions abroad.

“The ministry will spend the allocation to the best use in carrying out its role and function in support of government policy and upholding the national interest in the international arena,” he said.

He added that the ministry will implement regional and international economic initiatives such as in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was signed on February 4 this year in Auckland, New Zealand. Both will support the economic development of the country in attracting foreign investment, increasing trade and creating employment for the people, especially the youth.

YB Pehin Dato Lim expressed the ministry’s appreciation to all relevant ministries and government agencies for their contributions, support and cooperation during the five years of negotiations on the TPP.

In his response to questions posed by several LegCo members, he explained the benefits from the TPP, AEC and other regional economic forums or cooperation in which Brunei is participating such as BIMP-EAGA, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

This economic cooperation, he went on to say, can increase market access for Brunei, which only has a population of 400,000, support non-oil and gas exports through economic diversification and enable Brunei to observe and learn from other countries’ best practices to which investors are interested in.

Other benefits include matters pertaining to a conducive business environment that can increase investment as well as improve the competitiveness of the country’s products.

Commenting on a suggestion by a LegCo member on transferring the trade department to the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism, YB Pehin Dato Lim explained what has been done and the responsibilities of the trade department.

“One (of them) is exposing Brunei’s products and services to international events,” he said.

He said MoFAT has helped local companies by promoting their products and services at international exhibitions. Giving an example, he said the assistance includes facilitating their participation and preparation for setting up the booths as well as providing technical assistance.

The ministry through its trade department has carried out negotiations with certain agencies. Since 2011, he said, the ministry has been providing assistance to 248 local companies in their participation in a total of 39 international trade exhibitions.

On a question relating to the demarcation survey to determine the boundary between Brunei and Malaysia, he said the demarcation of the land boundary between the two countries is being actively pursued. “In this demarcation exercise, both parties have cooperated well through the joint technical committee for border demarcation and delineation which discusses, coordinates and carries out the technical tasks involved,” he said.

“The demarcation survey is carried out in stages along the boundary sectors according to priority and the technical reference theme as well as the procedure jointly agreed,” he added.

He said that to date, a total of 388 boundary stones have been conclusively agreed and buried along a distance of 16.1km.

The Brunei Times