BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Ministry of Development (MoD) on Saturday proposed a budget of $334.9 million for the 2023/24 fiscal year, vowing to resolve complaints over public housing.

Development projects make up 35% or $119.7 million of MoD’s budget, while $115.1 million has been set aside for staff salaries and $109.9 million for recurring expenses.

During his budget readout at the Legislative Council, Development Minister Dato Hj Muhd Juanda Hj Abdul Rashid said $3.06 million has been allocated for improvements at the Mengkubau, Bukit Beruang National and Panaga housing schemes.

He shared that MoD had received 291 complaints regarding Mengkubau public housing, prompting it to offer 41 homeowners the option to move to better houses.

The ministry also plans to upgrade the sewage system at the Panaga Housing Scheme after a clogged system caused sewage to seep out of manholes. The Bukit Beruang National Housing Scheme will also get a drainage system upgrade to help mitigate flooding during the rainy season.

Water supply and smart meters

The ministry is currently expanding the Bukit Barun water treatment plant to increase water supply to the Brunei-Muara district.

“This project will increase the capacity for clean water production to as much as 120 million litres a day, and is estimated to be complete by 2025,” said the development minister.

He also shared that MoD has begun installing smart utility meters in 200,000 households as part of a five-year plan in collaboration with telco DST and the Ministry of Finance and Economy. So far 2,659 of 125,000 smart meters have been installed.

“With the usage of these smart meters, every user will be able to monitor their water usage online,” he said.

The ministry is also planning to introduce boat skimmers, barges and river debris booms to remove litter from the Brunei River.

“The Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation will be tasked with maintaining the upkeep and cleanliness of the river through more efficient and effective means using the latest technology,” said Dato Juanda.

“This includes the use of InfraWorks for the installation of litter traps to prevent land rubbish from entering the river.”