Brunei’s private sector has proven to be a strong source of job creation, employing nearly 30,000 jobseekers between 2013 and 2017, the second minister of finance said.

Statistics from the national employees trust fund (TAP) has shown that within this five year period (2013 – 2017), the private sector has provided jobs to 29,600 new employees, compared to just 3,115 within the government sector.

The encouraging data has bolstered the government’s resolve to continue investing in initiatives that will facilitate the growth of the private sector and create a more conducive business environment.

Second Finance Minister YB Dato Seri Paduka Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew reading out the budget for 2018/19 at the Legislative Council. Photo: Infofoto

At the Legislative Council meeting this morning, YB Dato Seri Paduka Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah highlighted that some of the areas of focus for the 2018/2019 budget allocation include creating employment opportunities, increasing human resource capacity, and improving ease of doing business.

FDI companies creating employment for Bruneians

A marked improvement in Brunei’s Doing Business rankings has attracted more foreign direct investments into the sultanate. In 2017, a World Bank report named Brunei the most improved economy for facilitating business and foreign investment, in large part due to reforms made to improve regulations.

The second finance minister shared that FDI companies that have established presence in Brunei are providing job opportunities, with their labour force comprising mainly locals.

“The first margarine factory in Brunei, Western Foods and Packaging (WFP) Sdn Bhd, an FDI from Turkey… currently employs 79 locals, which is 96 per cent of its workforce.”

Meanwhile, a $52 million Japanese FDI, Threading Oil Country Tubular Goods’ Service and Plantation Center (OCTG) SC Tubular Solutions, which was set up in May 2017, currently employs 135 locals — making up 81 per cent of its workforce.

Other FDI companies currently contributing to job creation and local employment are Ghanim International Corporation, Sahtaain Group and Heng Yi Industries, among others.

$43M for i-Ready and Centre for Capacity Building

Out of the $5.3 billion government budget proposed for the upcoming fiscal year, the finance minister has suggested for $43 million to be allocated for the i-Ready programme and Centre for Capacity Building (PPK).

“As of March 1, 2018, 1,562 graduate jobseekers have registered with the i-Ready. Out of which, 1,263 have already gotten job placements. Under this initiative — which began in April 2017 — 146 graduates have already secured permanent employment,” he said.

Statistics from TAP show that the private sector provided 29,600 new job opportunities from 2013-2017.

The i-Ready initiative is an apprenticeship programme which aims to increase the marketability of unemployed graduates. It is open to citizens and permanent residents, with the government providing each successful applicant a monthly allowance of $800 upon securing temporary job placements.

Meanwhile, the PPK allows jobseekers to learn industry-related skills in order to become more relevant and employable in certain sectors. Graduates of the centre will receive certification recognised by local industries.

“The PPK aims to produce between 2,800 and 3,000 skilled local trainers by the end of 2018,” Dato Amin said.

$155.9M for scholarships, education loans and development programmes for civil servants

To continuously support the government’s efforts in realising job opportunities and capacity building, other provisions have also been made available such as budgeting for development and training programmes for civil servants as well as the in-service schemes. A total of $31.3 million has been allocated, with $7.5million dedicated for the in-service training scheme.

For the 2018/2019 fiscal year, the government has allocated $80 million for its education loan scheme (Skim Bantuan Pinjaman Pendidikan) — an increase of $30 million from the previous financial year.

The education loan scheme was introduced in 2014 to help students who could not secure a scholarship to pursue their higher education locally or abroad.

As for government scholarships, the second finance minister disclosed that $44.6 million has been allotted.