BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN  – More Bruneians need to take up skilled jobs as part of long-term plans to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign workers, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah said.

In his titah at the first National Development Plan Executive Committee meeting on Monday, he said Brunei must focus on providing locals with employment opportunities and equip them with skills in various sectors.

“As an independent and progressive nation, we cannot rely too much on foreign labour.

“This is not a solution towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, locals need to be given exposure to all ‘environments’ including construction and so on,” he added.

The construction industry is heavily dependent on migrant workers, who made up 78 percent of the total workforce in the sector last year.

HM the Sultan delivers a titah before the executive committee for the  National Development Plan. Photo: Infofoto

His Majesty said he hopes to see the drawing up of the Manpower Blueprint to achieve the first goal in Wawasan 2035 – ensuring that the people of Brunei are educated, highly skilled and accomplished.

The education ministry and Manpower Planning and Employment Council are expected to lead efforts towards establishing the Manpower Blueprint.

The Prime Minister’s Office and National Council on Social Issues will be responsible for drafting the Social Blueprint to realise the Wawasan 2035’s second goal of ensuring high quality of life, he said.

He added that preparations are underway to establish a framework for achieving the third goal – creating a dynamic and sustainable economy.

The sultan also called on the government to focus on National Development Plan (RKN) projects that can contribute to efficiency and productivity, instead of emphasising infrastructure provision.

Cabinet ministers in attendance at the first National Development Plan Executive Committee meeting. Photo: Infofoto

Before implementing the development plans, he said several factors must be taken into account including the project’s viability, contribution to industrial and economic development as well as ability to stimulate the country’s fiscal resilience.

It is time to move forward and carry out reforms on the planning and project selection process, he said.

The monarch added that bidding and designs of 11th RKN projects that are still in the planning process should be re-evaluated to ensure they are relevant.

The 11th RKN is expected to conclude in 2023 before the 12th development plan starts the following year.

His Majesty further urged government agencies to strengthen the digital economy and usher in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

He said the development of government apps such as BruHealth, MOHcares, SmartConsumer and TransportBN is important to address the challenges ahead, including maintaining peace and prosperity.