A national budget of $5.3 billion has been passed for the financial year 2018/2019, as the 14th Legislative Council session came to a close on Tuesday following a 12-day sitting.

The allocation — which will take effect on April 1 — remains the same as the previous budget despite steadying oil prices and a forecasted 0.8 per cent in GDP growth this year. According to the second minister of finance, YB Dato Seri Paduka Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah, the main thrusts for government spending this year includes creating employment and developing human capacity, while practicing cost-efficient spending and employing innovative solutions.

Also included in the budget is a $900 million allocation for projects under the 11th National Development Plan (NDP). “This will fund 182 projects — 151 new projects and 31 which have been carried forward [from the previous NDP budget],” he said.

Speaker of the Legislative Council, YB Pehin Hj Abdul Rahman, presides over the proceedings. Photo: Infofoto

In the previous budget, development projects were allocated a sum of $1 billion, bringing the 2018/2019 allocation down by $100 million.

The bulk of the NDP allocation — 63.8 per cent — will go towards the transport and communications sector. During the LegCo session, the minister of communications, YB Abdul Mutalib Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Yusof, said his ministry is in the process of improving the public transport system and is looking at the feasibility of privatising some of its services.

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However, MinComm is taking the biggest ministerial budget cut out of all the ministries. Its 2018/2019 allocation has been reduced by more than half for this upcoming fiscal year — down to $54.8 million from the previous allocation of $122 million. Another ministry taking a cut to its budget is the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (down by $1.5 million).

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education’s budget has been boosted by nearly $30 million to $695.8 million for the 2018/2019 financial year. Also getting a budget hike this year are the Ministry of Health (by over $23 million) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (nearly $7 million).

In his speech yesterday, the special adviser to His Majesty and minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Bakti Diraja Dato Laila Utama Hj Isa Pehin Datu Perdana Manteri Dato Laila Utama Hj Ibrahim, reiterated the theme of the 2018/2019 budget “productive and innovative spending to drive national growth”.

“We need to understand the situation faced by Brunei at the moment. We have to take a whole of nation approach [in order to realise our targets]… InsyaAllah, if we all play our part, all our plans will go smoothly,” he said.

YB Pehin Dato Hj Isa also reminded members of the Legislative Council to continue to meet and discuss matters pertaining to national issues from time to time outside of the LegCo meetings.

 BUDGET BREAKDOWN 

  1. Prime Minister’s Office — $537 million
  2. Ministry of Defence — $493 million
  3. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade — $112 million
  4. Ministry of Finance — $747 million
  5. Ministry of Home Affairs — $149 million
  6. Ministry of Education — $696 million
  7. Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism — $54 million
  8. Ministry of Religious Affairs — $236 million
  9. Ministry of Development — $807 million
  10. Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports — $76 million
  11. Ministry of Health — $344 million
  12. Ministry of Communications — $55 million
  13. National Development Plan — $900 million

Total budget passed for FY 2018/2019: $5.3 billion