BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Department of Immigration and National Registration will start using a new border control system in April to track visitors’ demographic information, the minister of home affairs said on Sunday.

YB Pehin Dato Hj Abu Bakar Hj Apong said the new system will use biometric data such as fingerprint and facial recognition.

“Through this system, it will be able to help track the demographics of visitors as well as unwanted visitors in this country more effectively,” he said during a session of the Legislative Council session.

Brunei International Airport will be the first port of call to implement the system before it is extended to all border checkpoints.

Employment Order to be updated

The minister added that the Employment Order 2009 and Immigration Act will be amended with input from government agencies, the public and grassroots leaders. 

“This will ensure that the entry of foreign workers are under control, their welfare are taken care of and protected, and subsequently take action against offenders who violate labour and immigration laws,” he said.

The department is also in the final phase of implementing the Immigration and National Registration (INRS) System, which aims to collect individuals’ personal information, including their biometric data. The system is expected to promote data sharing among government agencies.

The projects will use a portion of the Ministry of Home Affairs proposed budget of $128.34 million for the 2022/2023 financial year — a slight decrease of 1.5 percent from the previous year.

Home Affairs Minister YB Pehin Dato Hj Abu Bakar is pictured during a meeting of the Legislative Council on Feb 27, 2022. Photo: Information Department

Building tax can be paid online soon

YB Pehin Dato Hj Abu Bakar also announced that property owners will soon be able to pay their building tax online once the Municipal Property Database Project, known as EP-TAX, is in place.

The Municipal Property Database Project, under the 11th National Development Plan, will hold  information on properties in municipal areas and enable property owners to pay building tax online.

The minister said MoHA will take more “effective action” in reducing and avoiding arrears, including making court claims. 

“The ministry is also in discussions with other government agencies to require payment of building tax before certain types of applications are approved,” he said.

Last year, MoHA said building owners owed the government $54 million in property taxes.

E-Undi app increases number of youth voters

The minister further said the E-Undi app has increased the number of youth voters in grassroots elections.

The app, which provided an additional platform to conventional voting methods, had a positive impact on the voting process as more youth voters were reported last December.

“Fifty-four percent of youth cast their votes through the E-Undi system, an increase from 30 percent. We believe this number will increase over time,” he added.

He added that 53 candidates — 73 percent of all candidates —  for penghulu and village heads were below 50 years old. Of that number, 38 were graduates from higher education institutions.