$57m budget proposed for primary resources and tourism

National 4 minutes, 38 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism proposed budget for the 2016/2107 fiscal year is set at $57.14 million.

Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Yang Berhormat Dato Paduka Hj Ali Hj Apong revealed the proposed budget for the new ministry during the 12th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday.

The Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism was formerly known as Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, which was allocated $82.19 million in the current 2015/2016 fiscal year that ends on March 31, 2016.

Out of the $57.14 million in the next fiscal year, a total of $33.468 million is allocated for salaries of MPRT personnel, $17.299 million is for recurring expenses and $6.426 million is allocated for special expenses.

The minister elaborated that a majority of the $6.426 million allocated under special expenses were for two projects – padi farming and tourism.

The padi farming project will see works done on developing drainage infrastructure in several rice farming areas, purchase of imported materials and machines.

“All of these are aimed to increase production and padi yield. The budget allocation will also be use for the ‘rice buyback programme”, he said.

Under the buyback programme, the government purchases rice from commercial farmers.

For tourism, the budget will be use to improve and develop tourism products to appeal to domestic and international tourists.

Priority is given to the following tourism products, primary products (such as Ulu Temburong National Park), the capital Bandar Seri Begawan and Kg Ayer.

Bandar Seri Begawan covers Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien (SOAS) Mosque and Jame’ ‘Asr Hassanil Bolkiah, the Lapau building, Istana Darussalam and Istana Nurul Iman and the night market.

Kg Ayer covers the water village areas which include Jong Batu and Pulau Selirong.

These are already well knowntourist destinations, however efforts will be done with relevant stakeholders to strengthen the products’ attraction by emphasising on safety, comfort, as well as the provision of activities and services, he said.

Priority is also given to tourism promotion and marketing projects. The marketing and promotion will focus on ICT such as mobile apps and websites.

He also spoke of upgrading the Kg Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery.

The minister said the upgrade will add value to Kg Ayer as one of the primary tourism products in the country.

The minister said he was prepared to be open-minded to the possibilities of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) on projects planned for the fiscal year if there is a need for it.

“If there is a need for PPP, our side will discuss and coordinate with the relevant parties to evaluate its suitability,” he said.

In his statement, the minister said the ministry will focus on four core areas – economic growth, productivity, export and sustainability.

“First, the ministry will ensure that there is continuous economic growth in the output of the following industries – agriculture, fisheries, forestry and tourism that contribute directly to the country’s GDP,” he said.

“Increasing productivity has proven to be the main mechanism in assisting efforts to accelerate GDP growth”, he said.

Increased productivity is key to lowering unit product cost. Low production cost can increase the country’s international competitiveness, he added.

With increase international competitiveness, the industries will be able to penetrate the export market, which is in line with the ministry’s third core area, he said.

“What is important is that entrepreneurs can’t rely on our small domestic market, they have to explore the export market to guarantee continuous growth in business and GDP,” he said.

JPKE 2014 statistics showed that the country’s export stands at 61.9 per cent of Brunei’s GDP.

“If oil and gas exports are excluded from this, the country’s export is only 12.4 per cent GDP, he said. He compared the country’s exports to Singapore and Luxembourg, which he said are smaller in size, but has bigger GDP than Brunei. “This means that for an economy our size, the emphasis is for our economy to penetrate the export market to guarantee GDP growth,” he said.

In addressing the issue of sustainability, the minister said sustainability has a wide scope.

Suitable approaches such as public-private partnerships (PPP) and foreign direct investments (FDI) ,as well as approaches that are cost effective, will be continuously explored, he added.

In the next five years (2016-2020), MPRT will focus on six industries, the minister said.

The industries are the poultry farming industry, vegetable industry, horticulture industry, agrifood industry, fisheries industry and forestry industry.

For poultry farming, vegetable and horticulture industries, the industries will utilise modern technology to achieve their respective targets. The minister elaborated that they targeted to increase output value of poultry farming to between $300 and $400 million by 2020 compared to $110 million in 2014. For the vegetable industry, the target is to increase output value to between $150 and $200 million by 2020. In 2014, the output value was $33 million.

The ministry set the target of output value for cut flowers industry to between $40 and $60 million by 2020, compared to only $0.2 million ($200,000) in 2014.

For agrifood industry, which focuses on processed meat products, the target of output value is set to between $200 and $250 million by 2020, compared to $102 million in 2014.

Meanwhile, the fisheries industry will focus on aquaculture that is offshore fish cage culture, inland shrimp culture, manufacturing industry and its related industries, said the minister.

The target output value for the industry is set between $200 and $300 million by 2020.

For the forestry industry, the ministry is currently evaluating plans to spur the growth of downstream industries and the non-timber forest products industry.

In view of the country’s small economic size, most of the aforementioned output is targeted for international market or export, he said.

The Brunei Times