BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) has proposed a budget of $929.35 million for the 2021/2022 fiscal year, an 8.9 percent increase from the previous financial year.

Speaking during a session of the Legislative Council on Thursday, the second MoFE minister, YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah, said the hike is due to an increase in “miscellaneous services” provided by the ministry, which takes up $707 million of MoFE’s budget.

Among the miscellaneous expenses are $121 million for security and defence; $20 million for infectious disease outbreaks and purchase of COVID-19 vaccines; and $3.8 million for development in the Temburong district.

Staff salaries make up $67.3 million of MoFE’s budget.

A total of $16.9 million has been allocated to development projects this year (from a total planning cost of $295 million), including the establishment of Brunei’s securities exchange; development of Phase 2 of Pulau Muara Besar and the Brunei Bay; as well as funding studies and research carried by the Brunei Research Council and other bodies.

“The ministry is committed to implementing and supporting efforts that contribute to the country’s economy, through cooperation with other ministries, government-linked companies and statutory bodies, as well as foreign direct investments,” YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin said.

The minister did not go into detail about the government’s economic priorities, saying it had already been discussed at length during the budget readout on Wednesday.

The government is sitting on a current deficit of $2.98 billion, as the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the global economy and sent oil prices crashing last year.