BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Ministry of Home Affairs has proposed a $131.2 million budget for the 2019/2020 fiscal year, a 12 per cent rise from the previous financial year.

During the 15th Legislative Council session, the minister of home affairs said the budget will be used to execute three core areas – safeguard public safety and well-being, promote socio-economic development and strengthen community solidarity.

YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Abu Bakar Hj Apong said the ministry will improve the quality of public services, especially facilitating business processes and contributing to the development of business and investment ecosystems.

To ensure progress is achieved for all three strategic objectives, he said the ministry will improve the effectiveness of revenue collection.

From April 1, 2018 to January 31, 2019, the government collected property taxes worth $6.2 million. However, the minister said $ 3.9 million of taxes is still unpaid.

To assist in tax revenue collection, the Municipal Department introduced online payment via the Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) and Baiduri Bank websites and mobile applications earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the Immigration and National Registration Department’s Smart Q System will be extended to the department’s branches in other districts.

The minister said this service can help reduce waiting time in applying for identity cards, passports and visas.

Since its introduction at the immigration headquarters from May 1, 2018 to December 2018, the department received 15,713 applications. All applications were processed during the four-day client’s charter.

The department will also upgrade the Temburong Labu Control Post to improve security level and quality of screening on people entering and exiting the control post.

There were 16.86 million arrivals through the country’s 11 existing control posts in 2018.

The minister further said district offices are actively working to fill vacancies for ketua kampong and penghulu positions.

The vacancies were advertised three times in October and November 2018 and recently in February 2019.

He said the majority of 124 candidates who applied for the vacancies had tertiary academic qualifications.

The ministry will train newly appointed penghulu and village heads to ensure they are ready to carry out their tasks, he added.

YB Pehin Dato Dr Hj Abu Bakar said the estimated sales from the ‘One Village One Product’ (1K1P) project was over $692,000 last year.

The ministry is drafting a memorandum of understanding with Thailand’s interior ministry to bring in expertise to share experiences and help elevate the management and production of 1K1P products.

The ministry is also identifying village entrepreneurs whose 1K1P products have potential for further development.