Express your views first before seeking big budget allocations
Azlan Othman

HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has urged appointed members of the Legislative Council to express as many views as possible pertaining to the budget allocation in the 10th National Development Plan and not to ask for big budget allocation without knowing what and how it can be used effectively.

His Majesty said this in his titah at the opening of the ninth session of the Legislative Council meeting yesterday.

To boost the economy and growth, the monarch also revealed that the Estate Duty has been abolished since January 1, 2013 to encourage domestic investment.

“We must be thankful to Allah the Almighty for blessing us with peace and prosperity and for the people enjoying a comfortable lifestyle.

“But we should not be complacent in our efforts to uphold peace and stability. More so during the past five years as the world is hit by global economic turbulence which is feared to affect the livelihood of the people, even though the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has given a more positive sentiment on the global economy,” the Sultan said.

His Majesty added that in his opinion, the fiscal, financial and economic system in some countries still continues to be in trouble and tested. “Hence, my government continues and intensifies efforts to strengthen the economy and its growth. One of the main requirements is the expansion of business and trade and to attract more foreign investments.

“We would also continue to provide conducive investment and that oil and gas downstream and upstream industries would also be strengthened as the main contributor of our economy. And to enhance investment within the country, I’ve consented for the Estate Duty to be abolished effective January 1, 2013. This also includes any outstanding Estate Duty that would also be removed from the account.

“The progress of the private sector’s non-oil and gas industry would also be facilitated. The contribution from the government sector would also continue especially in the form of building main facilities. A budget allocation of $6.5 billion in the 10th National Development Plan is a bold commitment from my government to finance various developmental projects. All these need serious attention from all Legislative Council members, especially the appointed members, and they should give as many views as possible.”

His Majesty added that it was not appropriate just to ask without giving their views and not appropriate to seek big budget allocation without looking at what or how it is used effectively. “Without doubt, it requires views and ideas from the members. We believe that members especially the appointed ones are fully aware of the areas that are being developed in the government programmes.

“In view of this, is it not appropriate for them to jointly give views such as how to enhance education, improve health level, overcome unemployment, develop investment, tourism, agriculture, fisheries and environment?” the monarch asked.

“Views should also be expressed on matters relating to religious and legal aspects such as how to streamline and facilitate their implementation or on social matters such as how to tackle and cure moral issues.

“In short, these areas are wide ranging and open to be discussed. If there is a good and heated response from the members, then the meeting and its deliberation will be meaningful.

“In my opinion, this is what the people have been waiting for. They want to hear and want to know the status of development of the government projects that have been or being carried out. It is not adequate by mentioning the big budget allocation in the 10th National Development Plan without giving the picture of the projects that are being carried out and their status of development.

“In my view, this is the big responsibility of the Legislative Council members as grassroots leaders as they are obliged to know all the government initiatives that have been or are being carried out covering all aspects, be they religion, economy, infrastructure, security and social aspects,” His Majesty said.

“It is through this process that the Legislative Council members have elevated the Council as a respected institution. As a forum for discussion, it is able to avoid trivial issues and instead prioritise big matters for the benefit of all levels of the community and the nation,” the ruler said.

His Majesty hoped that the ninth session of the Legislative Council meeting would run smoothly and accordingly and be able to achieve its objectives. - Borneo Bulletin (8 March 2013)