Sultan calls on workforce to increase productivity
Siti Hajar

AS THE country ushered in the New Year, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam emphasised the need for better productivity in the government as well as private sector with focus on improving the Sultanate’s overall socio-economic development.

In a titah delivered yesterday, the monarch said public service is “the government’s engine” in providing quality service to not just the public but also the business community, whom His Majesty said should prioritise hiring locals and retain them with salaries and incentives that are both apt and reasonable.

As His Majesty expressed hope that the issue of productivity in both sectors are addressed, the monarch also stressed that the population’s concerted efforts will be needed in boosting the economy, stating that this particular aim is in line with the 10th National Development Plan that encompasses ‘Knowledge and Innovation – Enhan-cing Productivity, Accelerating Economic Growth’.

“Policies and strategies,” said His Majesty, “should be immediately formulated to achieve goals that have been envisioned.”

Throughout last year, His Majesty said the government took measures to improve a number of areas to strengthen the economy, including conducting more socio-economic activities, attracting foreign investors and carrying out joint ventures in a number of fields including oil and gas, medicine as well as services.

Citing Brunei’s global ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Report that saw the country improve in the facilitation and support of new businesses from 79 in 2012 to 59 in 2013, His Majesty expressed hope that the positives that stem from these changes will provide inspiration for the population to do more in the way they do business in the country.

“Our objective is clear: To transform the country into a pro-business society that will, Insya Allah, develop our economy and make it viable, whilst at the same time, create job opportunities” to reduce the upward rate of unemployment, which is also being tackled from different sides including the Ministry of Education’s efforts in introducing technical and vocational training to improve local human resource skills to fill in gaps that are already available in the job market.

His Majesty also spoke about a number of developments in the country last year and more are being done to improve the people’s standard of living.

Touching on infrastructural development, it was said that several projects are set to take place throughout the nation including meeting the population’s demand for water by improving water storage capacity and maintaining water treatment plants, whilst at the same time addressing the issue of flooding.

In the field of transportation, His Majesty said efforts are also being made to improve road safety through a number of moves including widening and upgrading of roads, the introduction of the demerit points system (SiKAP) and road safety campaigns.

On a long-term basis, His Majesty said the government is currently in the process of preparing a transportation induction plan that focuses on, among others, network services that are efficient, safe and clean, which will include the construction of roads and bridges that will connect the Brunei-Muara and Temburong Districts and also a bridge across the Brunei River from Kampong Sungai Kebun to Jalan Residency in the capital.

With the government’s ambition to provide housing to every individual in the country, His Majesty said the number of those on the waiting list has been reduced to almost half and this year will witness the completion of 6,000 additional homes, which will bring the total number of government houses to over 26,000 and more will be made available with the introduction of high-rise accommodation.

In health services, His Majesty said the government will continue to introduce steps to strengthen local expertise, whilst in environmental protection, the ruler said the government is currently working towards the introduction of environmental legislations aimed at preservation and curbing pollution.

His Majesty reminded that the country will begin the introduction of the first phase of Syariah Law in April and called on the community to support its implementation.

At the international level, His Majesty said Brunei’s role last year as Chair of Asean, making the country shouldering its regional responsibility with precision, has impressed those who came to take part in dozens of meetings that were conducted throughout the year.

With regards to Brunei’s role in providing assistance to neighbouring Philippines, His Majesty commended the public’s pooling of resources to lighten the burden of those who survived Typhoon Haiyan.

In ending the titah, His Majesty expressed his appreciation to the working population in Brunei for the contributions they have made for the country’s welfare and wished Brunei a Happy New Year 2014.

“I pray that Allah the Almighty will continue to bless and protect us and our nation,” His Majesty said. - Borneo Bulletin (1 January 2014)