BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — Brunei businesses must make use of digital tools to thrive in an environment where uncertainty remains high amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the second finance and economy minister said.

The pandemic has accelerated digital adoption, forcing businesses to re-evaluate how they operate, said YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah on Wednesday.

“Like businesses in many other countries, Brunei businesses must recognise the changing landscape and understand the tools available to them in the digital world, and the skills they need to equip their staff in order to thrive,” he said.

The minister was speaking during the launch of a series of ASEAN business events at the International Convention Centre, including the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, ASEAN Business Roundtable and ASEAN Business Awards 2021.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew, who is also chair of the ASEAN Economic Community Council, said supply chains and the movement of people continue to be disrupted due to COVID-19.

Many economists predict that pre-pandemic growth will not return until 2023 as new COVID-19 waves persist in the region and globally.

The minister said it is imperative that the business community understands the challenges and opportunities that lie within and beyond Brunei’s borders.

“While we grapple with the pandemic, the long-term challenge of climate change is increasingly urgent.

“The world’s rising temperatures and erratic rainfall are causing havoc and driving a key shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energy,” he added.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew said Brunei has been working hard to cut its heavy reliance on the oil and gas industry to realise economic diversification.

The launch of the Brunei Darussalam Economic Blueprint, which acts as a guide to develop the country’s industrial roadmaps and key sector master plans, paves the way towards a dynamic and sustainable economy, he said.

Chair of ASEAN Business Advisory Council YB Siti Rozaimeriyanty delivers her speech, while Chair of ASEAN Business Awards Hj Musa looks on at the launch of the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit and ASEAN Business Awards 2021. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

Brunei to host major ASEAN business events

As this year’s ASEAN chair, Brunei will host a series of regional business events that gather government officials, the business community and civil society to identify ways to promote inclusive sustainable growth in the digital age.

Organised by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, the business events will take place over the next three months

The ASEAN Business and Investment Summit will be a hybrid event combining an in-person event with an online component on October 25, bringing together Southeast Asian leaders and ASEAN dialogue partners, business and thought leaders. 

Brunei will also host two events on ‘Fintech for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth’ in August and ‘Skills for a Digital Age’ in September, as part of the ASEAN Business Roundtable. 

The final event in the series is the ASEAN Business Awards, which recognise companies that have excelled and contributed to the growth of ASEAN. 

Chair of the ASEAN Business Awards Hj Musa Hj Adnin said hundreds of companies in the region have received accolades since the awards were introduced in 2007.

Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) will be taking the lead in developing the structure of the categories this year, managing the applications and judging process as well as promoting participation. 

The ASEAN Business Awards will take place on November 10. 

Chair of ASEAN Business Advisory Council YB Siti Rozaimeriyanty DSLJ Hj Abd Rahman said this year’s awards will also feature ‘Brunei Special Awards’ to recognise the contribution of local social enterprises. 

New project to bridge digital skills gaps

The ASEAN Business Advisory Council has also introduced its “legacy project” to address the gaps in digital skills and knowledge among the unemployed in Southeast Asia.

The project is named H.I.R.E.D, which stands for ‘Harnessing Impact with Resilient Employability Digitally’.

“For Brunei, we specifically chose a legacy project in terms of human capacity building. When we look at Brunei, we are facing the same global problem of unemployment,” YB Siti Rozaimeriyanty said.

“We have to make sure our reskilling and upskilling are on par with whatever the demand is, whether in ASEAN or other countries,” she added.

The ASEAN Business Advisory Council was established to provide private sector feedback and guidance to boost ASEAN’s efforts towards economic integration and identify priority areas for consideration by state leaders.