His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam announced several initiatives to help the subjects own houses as well as to enhance their welfare, boost connectivity by building a bridge connecting the Temburong and Brunei-Muara Districts and allocated $230 million for fibre-to-the- home project for comprehensive broadband infrastructure.
His Majesty also gave consent for the Syariah Criminal Penal Code Order to be implemented in the country and for a fast track system to promote civil servants.
These announcements were made in a titah His Majesty delivered at the Balai Singgahsana of Istana Nurul Iman yesterday to mark the monarch's 66th birthday celebrations.
His Majesty also stressed the need to instil discipline in our lifestyle to curb the growing problem of non-infectious diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart ailments, cancer and kidney problems.
The ruler was pleased with the introduction of Demerit Points System which has high potential to make Brunei roads safe.
"In any event and atmosphere when celebrating an auspicious festive occasion, we should not lose sight in expressing our thanks to Allah the Almighty for the peace and prosperity bestowed upon us and the nation. I am also thankful to the people that are united and responsible in jointly upholding and maintaining the supreme blessings.
"From such peace creates stability which in turn generates peace of prosperity. Thus, people from all walks of life are obliged to uphold the stability. With the existing wealth and stability, my government will continue the development agenda in the country," the Sultan said.
The monarch added, "This year, we have begun the 10th National Development Programme (RKN) which is the second RKN or development plan to realise the country's Vision 2035. This time, the RKN emphasises more on efforts to empower the human resource capability in line with the new technology and innovation, besides giving emphasis on the facilities, education, health, communications, housing, recreation and places of worship.
"These steps are hoped to speed up economic growth comparable with the regional economic growth. Hence, it is crucial for the 10th National Development Programme to run on time and as planned. Projects should not be left behind or held back.
"I am pleased to note of our approach in providing housing for the people which has shown an encouraging outcome. The number of houses that has been completed and still under construction appears capable to reduce the waiting period for the applicants.
"In our effort to enhance welfare in terms of housing for the people, I have consented for several initiatives to be implemented such as firstly, not to impose land premium for the renewal of land lease not exceeding one acre where on such land stands a house of the owner or one to be built.
"Secondly, a Housing Funding Scheme will be established for TAP members of Brunei Darussalam to assist them, especially those low-income earners. This voluntary scheme would qualify participants to receive certain benefits such as to guarantee a certain rate of returns annually. For those whose household income does not exceed $4,000 a month are eligible to receive government assistance of not more than $25,000.
"Thirdly, for civil servants, I have also consented for a financial scheme for housing in the Treasury Department to be fine-tuned and adapted to the current circumstances and needs. With the changes, the loan eligibility of those who wish to build or buy a house would be increased to 60 months of the basic salary compared to only 48 months at present, subject to terms and conditions.
"The financial facilities would also be extended for the purchase of land for the construction of houses using an allocation not exceeding 24 months of the basic salary.
"With such assistance and facilities, I believe that they would alleviate the cost of home ownership in certain section of the community, especially low-income earners. I hope the assistance and facilities would encourage the public to be prudent and live within their means," His Majesty said.
After the titah, His Majesty presented state decorations and medals to some 52 recipients in an Investiture ceremony.
Also present at the ceremony were Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha, HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office and HRH Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah and HRH Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Zariah, HRH Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah and YAM Pengiran Bini Hajah Faizah, HRH Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah, HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik, HRH Prince 'Abdul Mateen and HRH Prince 'Abdul Wakeel.
Also present were HRH Princess Hjh Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Hjh Muta-Wakkilah Hayatul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Hjh Majeedah Nurul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah, HRH Princess 'Azemah Ni'matul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Fadzilah Lubabul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah and other members of the royal family.
AT A GLANCE
Not to levy land premium for renewal of land lease not exceeding one acre where on that land stands a house of the owner or one to be built
Housing Fund Scheme for TAP members
Financial Housing Loan Scheme to be fine-tuned and in line with the current situation and needs as loans to build houses or buy houses are extended to 60 months of the basic salary compared to 48 months at present
The facility is also extended to buy land to build a house using allocation not exceeding 24 months of the basic salary
- Borneo Bulletin
(16 July 2012)