Two new mosques will be built from money donated through the Mosque Construction Fund, the Minister of Religious Affairs disclosed on Thursday at the Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting.

The fund, which was first launched on June 4, 2015, has received $7.5 million as of December last year.

YB Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Badaruddin Pengarah Dato Paduka Hj Othman said the first mosque to be built using the fund will be completed by June this year.

“The $3.6 million Tanjung Bunut Mosque is expected to be completed this June. Meanwhile, we have already opened tender for another mosque — Masjid Bukit Panggal — which we hope will start construction very soon,” the minister said.

At the moment, the ministry is looking at the possibility of building more mosques within the next five years, all projects mobilised through the Mosque Construction Fund.

File photo of the iconic Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque in the capital. Brunei will soon see two new mosques built from monies donated through the Mosque Collection Fund. Photo: Rudolf Portillo

“Collections from the fund between 2018 and 2023 is expected to reach $18 million, based on the current average collection of $300,000 a month,” he said, adding that this will make it possible for more mosques to be built.

There are multiple ways for the public to donate to the fund, including automatic salary deduction, SMS contributions, direct bank transfer and via donation boxes placed at all mosques.

During his deliberation yesterday, YB Pehin Dato Hj Badaruddin also said that his ministry has seen a nine per cent increase in the number of people paying “zakat harta” (property tithe mandated under Islam).

“In 2016, we received a total of $17.4 million from 4,625 [people]. That number rose to 5,047 in 2017 amounting to $17.48 million,” he said.

As of December 2017, nearly 2,500 poor and destitute families had been identified to receive monthly financial help through zakat funds. Over a period of two years, these families will receive monthly financial aid amounting to over $20 million.

For the 2018/2019 financial year, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has been allocated a budget of $259.93 million, a reduction of almost $3 million from the previous fiscal year.