New push for economic diversification in 2012
By Azlan Othman

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has called for efforts to diversify the economy to be intensified in view of the 10th National Development Plan (10th NDP) which will take effect on April 1, 2012.

One of the focuses of the NDP is to establish a more conducive business environment for the private sector to develop faster and easier, His Majesty said last night in a titah to welcome the new year.

"Hence, I hope that we are committed to implementing initiatives and projects under the NDP, especially in the provision of services to the public. It is our responsibility to shoulder it with great enthusiasm."

His Majesty also reminded the people to be prudent in spending and in using the country's resources to avoid huge debts and wastage which could affect the nation's growth.

Prudence, be it in spending at the government, household or individual level is the pillar of the country's economic survival, His Majesty said.

The people should not forget that prudence is another key to stability and prosperity, the monarch added.

His Majesty cautioned the people against spending beyond one's means.

The need to be prudent also applies to the use of the nation's resources.

"There is no choice but to avoid wastage, including facilities that are given subsidies such as energy. The enforcement of new electricity tariff begins today. It should receive support from all of us as a step to control wastage.

"Energy-saving will directly reduce the use of local oil and gas which will in turn enable us to export more and for use in the downstream industry to increase the state revenue and provide more job opportunities."

His Majesty added that if the large debts and wastage continue, the issue would affect the economy which is dependent on oil and gas.

"Hence, I never tire of reminding us to intensify our economic diversification programme.

"This year, 2012, by the will of Allah the Almighty, the country will strengthen its efforts towards this through the 10th National Development Plan which takes effect on April 1, 2012."

His Majesty also touched on the importance of upholding peace.

If there is no peace, all development will be delayed or fail, His Majesty said.

His Majesty also noted the rise in non-infectious diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, cancer and heart diseases.

His Majesty is concerned over the latest findings that show a surge in obesity in the country which indicates an unbalanced lifestyle.

"Let us be determined to build a more disciplined lifestyle in maintaining our health, especially in choosing healthy foods, avoid smoking and to exercise more."

As part of the educational process and building self-discipline, His Majesty's Government has approved the National Service Programme for youths which runs in stages, beginning on a small scale to ensure its orderly progress.

In the international arena, His Majesty is glad to note that the nation will host the Asean Summit in 2013. "Thus, this year (2012), we need to make early preparations to ensure the success of the meeting.

"In conclusion, I wish to express my appreciation and thanks to all levels of government officers and staff, security personnel and those in the private sector for all their respective efforts.

"My family and I would like to wish a 'Happy New Year' to the citizens and residents, and hope that our nation and the people will continue to receive blessings and protection from Allah the Almighty. Amin." - Borneo Bulletin (1st January 2012)