Brunei faces ageing population by 2030
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
THE United Nations has urged Brunei to create jobs, channel savings into investments and encourage more female participation as the sultanate moves toward an ageing population in 2030.
In the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Asia-Pacific Regional Human Development Report 2016 released earlier this week, Brunei was placed “in the middle of transition” bracket when it came to population demographics.
The report said Brunei, as part of Southeast Asia, will continue to see a large jump in the working-age population until 2030, after which the increase will slowly dissipate and move towards an ageing population as currently seen in countries such as Japan, China and Singapore.
The UN said Brunei needs to take action to make the most of the opportunity for growth in the changing population demographic.
“The region of Southeast Asia as a whole is expected to increase its working-age population by 10 per cent between 2015 and 2030, but only 0.4 per cent between 2030 and 2050,” it said.
“Countries will need to provide enough decent work, stimulate and manage their economies so that growth is inclusive, aligned with human development, expand the scope for savings and ensure people have capabilities, opportunities and freedoms to progress their lives,” it said.
The UN report called for the prioritising of job creation to maximise the outcome of the shift in demographics for countries in the middle bracket such as Brunei headed for an ageing population.
“The time has come to make job creation central to national development strategies, with a strong emphasis on protecting workers’ rights and policy measures to encourage small and medium enterprises.
“Structural transformation of the economy is also needed, to more productive activities, which would open new opportunities for people to find better work and prepare for the time when fewer numbers of workers will be needed to produce more to sustain development for an ageing population,” it added.
Latest statistics from the Department of Economic Planning and Development show that the population currently stands at 411,900 with males making up 51.8 per cent of the population.
The working-age population, citizens aged 15 to 59, make up 69.1 per cent of the population while children under 14 years old and senior citizens above the age of 60 account for 24.1 and 6.8 per cent of the population, respectively.
Statistics in the report projected that Brunei’s population will be around 500,000 people by 2030.
The UN report also advised Brunei as a country in the midst of a demographic transition to prepare for the financial requirements of sustaining development in the future.
“There is a need to widen the availability of financial instruments for investing in savings and one important avenue could be developing bond markets which are potentially a valuable source of income for municipalities aiming to keep up with rapid urbanisation and infrastructure expansion,” it said.
The report also called for action to ensure women are equal contributors to development as the demographic shifts towards an advanced stage when the population is evenly distributed across age groups. “Many women are spending disproportionate time on domestic caregiving, undercutting opportunities to generate an income and policies designed to ensure equal pay, rights for women, work and public safety will be critical for fully realising demographic dividends.
“Women also need to be full participants in political and economic decision-making, otherwise there will be a lower likelihood that policies and plans will fully support their capabilities and contributions to development,” the UN Development Programme added.
Statistics in the report show that Bruneian men currently earn nearly twice as much gross national income per capita ($121,353) than their female counterparts ($72,766).
The Brunei Times