RKN budget proposal put at $700m

National 4 minutes, 44 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister’s Office has proposed a $700 million budget for the 10th National Development Plan (RKN 10) in the 2016/2017 fiscal year, a 30 per cent decrease from the previous year.

Funding for development under the RKN 10 for the 2014/2015 financial year was $1 billion.

Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdul Rahman Hj Ibrahim, who is also the Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, said this financial year’s budget’s provision is to finance 196 projects under the RKN 10 – some of which are ongoing and others to be carried out.

At yesterday’s Legislative Council (LegCo) sitting, the minister said 21.4 per cent of the proposed budget will be attributed for pro-business initiatives while 14.2 per cent will be focused on increasing national productivity.

Of the proposed budget, 13.1 per cent will be spent on capacity building and human resources, and the remaining 51.3 per cent will be for public welfare facilities, the minister said.

Meanwhile, the social services sector has been provided the largest allocation of $178.4 million or 25.5 per cent of the budget, for projects in education, health, housing and human resources.

The transportation and communications sector will receive $153.3 million or 21.9 per cent while the industry and trade sector has been allocated $134.7 million or 19.3 per cent.

The sum for the industry and trade sector is to implement a number of economic projects identified to support efforts in diversifying the country’s economy and resources.

The public facilities sector has been allocated $133.4 million or 19.1 per cent, for providing the supply of clean water, sewage treatment, repair of water drainage systems including flood control, and the provision of electricity.

The security sector, including sub-sectors like the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) and the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) have been allocated $28.9 million or 4.1 per cent of the budget.

The public building sector has been provided $25.1 million or 3.6 per cent for repairs and maintenance of government infrastructure and assets.

Science and technology, research and development as well as the innovation sector has been given $22.5 million or 3.2 per cent, for research and development under the Brunei Research Council.

Information technology and info-communications have been allocated a total of $17.7 million or 2.5 per cent, to implement e-government projects, which will help improve the level of service efficiency and cost effectiveness.

This also includes its priority projects to strengthen systems’ integration, the minister said.

Up until March 15 this year, the actual NDP expenditure for the financial year 2015/16 amounted to $694.6 million, equating to about 70 per cent of the allocation provided.

However, the minister said expenditure for RKN 2015/16 is expected to increase to $800 million at the end of the financial year.

“To ensure that implementation and expenditure of RKN projects implemented are carried out according to schedule, concerned agencies will continue to monitor closely, introduce (any steps) and implement measures to ensure the completion of these RKN projects,” he said.

YB Pehin Dato Hj Abd Rahman said the fiscal year 2015/2016 is currently in its fourth year of the ongoing 10th RKN.

Alhamdullilah, most of the RKN projects planned have been implemented based on the set schedule, in addition to several other projects which were executed based on the nation’s needs and priorities,” he said.

The minister went on to say out of the 567 projects approved, 378 of them or 67 per cent have been completed.

Meanwhile, 18.7 per cent or about 106 of these projects are in progress and some are expected to be completed by the end of the 10th RKN, he added.

About 42 projects or 7.4 per cent of the projects are still in the tender process, while 21 or 3.7 per cent of the projects are in the design stage.

The remaining projects are still in the planning stage, the minister said.

For projects that need to be postponed to the next RKN, these projects will be reassessed based on national interests and priorities, said YB Pehin Dato Hj Abd Rahman.

YB Pehin Dato Hj Abd Rahman said for the 2016/2017 fiscal year, Brunei is expected to face a more challenging economic situation compared to previous financial years, where the budget for RKN will also be limited.

“Therefore, the government is concentrating more on designing and implementing projects that will support the theme of the national budget, namely strengthening the nation’s economic climate and considering the sustainability of the government’s fiscal policy,” the minister said.

In ensuring the planned projects to be executed, the minister said priority will be based on public necessity.

“These steps are important to ensure that financial resources will be used in a more productive manner and the government’s budget will not be wasted. At the same time, ministries and government agencies are also encouraged to evaluate the feasibility of implementation and financing of projects in Private Public Partnership (PPP) for commercialisation of relevant activities,” YB Pehin Dato Hj Abd Rahman said.

Responding to the announcement of the proposed RKN 10 budget for 2016/2017, LegCo member Yang Berhormat Pehin Kapitan Lela Diraja Dato Paduka Goh King Chin said the allocation of $700 million was a realistic sum, in view of the economic situation affecting countries abroad including Brunei.

“This (budget) is a positive government initiative that will engine important projects which will lead to improved standards of living and quality of life of people in Brunei. I myself as a businessman in the private sector, feel that the amount of $700 million is a realistic number for private sectors to ‘reabsorb’ the amount. This way, the private sector will be able to conduct projects listed under the RKN with more efficiency and cost-savviness. I see that this is an opportunity for the government and private sector to work hand-in-hand to realise this objective,” he said.

The Brunei Times