BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Seventy-six percent ($187 million) of the Ministry of Religious Affair’s proposed budget will be allocated for religious education, said its minister at the Legislative Council meeting last Saturday.

The ministry tabled a $246.1 million budget for the 2019/2020 financial year, which is a $10 million increase from the previous fiscal year. The ministry has also been allocated an additional $19 million in development expenditure to supplement its annual budget.

Speaking on the sixth day of the Legislative Council meeting, YB Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Badaruddin Pengarah Dato Paduka Hj Othman said the proposed budget will focus on five core thrusts: religious education; propagation of Islam; prosecution and enforcement of Islamic law; social welfare; and administration.

Spending on religious education continues to be the main thrust of the ministry’s budget with an allocation of $187 million, while $24 million is allocated for the propagation of Islam. The ministry’s budget will also cover cost of mosque administration and celebration of Islamic holidays.

A total of $6 million is allocated for the Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) and enforcement of Islamic law, while another $6 million is allocated for social welfare services, such as family counselling and collection and distribution of zakat. A total of $21 million is allocated for the ministry’s management and administration.

The minister shared that the Mosque Construction Fund collected $7.5 million over the span of three years, from June 2015 to December 2017.

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Of that amount, $6.56 million was used to build two mosques, the Ar-Rahman Mosque in Tanjung Bunut and Bukit Panggal Mosque in Tutong. The remaining funds were used to maintain and repair three mosques. Last year, the fund collected $4.19 million, with an average donation of $300,000 per month.