Monetary authority to ensure nation's stability
By Azaraimy HH

As a fresh new year begins in a brand new decade, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in a New Year 2011 Titah aired live on the national television network RTB last night, announced the formation of Brunei Darussalam Monetary Authority (AMBD) and a new Maternity leave regulation for civil servants.

His Majesty in the New Year Titah made these announcements as the country steps into a new decade indicating Brunei will continue to strengthen efforts towards improving the welfare of its people and the stability of the nation.

"The year 2010 had charted successes and challenges. The effort to strengthen the future of our economy had shown results - the start of methanol production for exports, added with continuous efforts to increase rice cultivation, besides steps to promote and produce food products under the 'Brunei Halal' brand - all have shown encouraging signs," His Majesty stated.

However even under these encouraging signs, His Majesty the Sultan stressed that the country should not falter from continuously strengthening its might against the diverse impacts of crises such as financial crisis, oil prices, food, health and climate.

"Touching on this stability, by the will of Allah the Almighty, we will start this new decade with the formation of a very important organisation, the Brunei Darussalam Monetary Authority (AMBD) tomorrow, January 1, 2010," His Majesty announced last night.

"Brunei must always re-assess its government policies, its long-term plans, procedures in meeting the demands of the people and the facilities for investment, for the good of the country and welfare of the people.

"This Authority will go to ensure that the nation's monetary and financial sector is functioning stably and accordingly. This includes the maintainance and the continuation of currency inter-exchangeability between Brunei Darussalam and the Republic of Singapore, which is seen to bring many benefits to both countries," His Majesty added.

In a Titah, His Majesty urged and hoped that efforts to realise the nation's vision to make Brunei an Islamic financial centre, comparable to world-renowned Islamic financial centre will continue.

His Majesty the Sultan, in the Titah also spelled out some of the efforts made in the year in enhancing the welfare and stability of the nation.

In the field of health, His Majesty the Sultan said besides enhancing the human capacity in the expert medical fields, His Majesty's government will also pour health efforts in an intensive way, through preventive measures and awareness.

"This include strengthening efforts to annihilate the dangerous habits of smoking, through amendments of the tobacco excise duties, cigars and similar products," His Majesty observed.

"My government also consented a new scheme doctor services on October 9, 2010, which among others aimed at improving the government's ability to pool high-quality doctors from inside and outside of the country," His Majesty reiterated.

"For local doctors, this new scheme hopes to inject new spirit for them to enter various medical fields in various levels of expertise," His Majesty said.

His Majesty also stressed the importance of joint government efforts to ensure food safety free from poisonous and dangerous contamination, for the welfare of the people.

Talking about the welfare of the people, His Majesty also touched on the issue of maternity leave that His Majesty had touched on during the year.

In the Titah, he reiterated the importance of mother's welfare and health before and after giving birth.

"Starting January 2011, my government will begin to enforce a new regulation, which is called Maternity Leave Regulation 2011, which will extend the maternity leave for women in civil service from 56 days to 105 days," His Majesty announced.

His Majesty the Sultan said this new regulation will also be adopted for women in the private sector, which comprises citizens and permanent residents in addition to the current Employment Order 2009.

His Majesty the Sultan also urged the people to count the blessings that they currently have.

The monarch said the people must also be realistically prepared for any unexpected difficulties and challenges.

In the Titah, His Majesty the Sultan also took the opportunity to praise the considerable kindness of his people towards the less fortunate.

"I fully appreciate and am happy, with the caring characteristics of the citizens and residents of the country towards the less fortunate people, especially those who fell victims to disaster," His Majesty stated.

"I praise this generosity and kindness in handing over appropriate aid to the people in the neighbouring country who had encountered disaster, such as floods, earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption and other similar situations," His Majesty added.

His Majesty asked the people to keep this "positive values" for eternity.

In the Titah, His Majesty the Sultan also recorded his high appreciation to all levels in civil services, security agencies and also those who are working in the private sector, in their sincere endeavour in implementing or carrying out their responsibilities and duties throughout the year 2010.

"My family and I would like to wish all citizens and residents a Happy New Year 2011. Let us pray to Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala for His continuous mercy and blessings in the form of welfare and protection to us all and the country." - Borneo Bulletin (1st January 2011)