Bandar Seri Begawan - Members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) were yesterday invited to provide feedback on ways to accelerate the country's economic growth to achieve a Gross Domestic Product growth rate of five to six per cent annually for the purpose of attaining the rank of Top 10 countries in the world by 2035 in line with the national vision.
The call for feedback was made by the Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Abdul Rahman bin Hj Ibrahim during the LegCo meeting yesterday.
He was responding to a query made by Yang Berhormat Hj Awg Ahmad Morsidi bin Pehin Orang Kaya Digadong Seri Diraja Dato Laila Utama Hj Awg Abdul Rahman regarding Brunei's progress towards this goal and the Sultanate's list of achievements so far.
Another matter raised by Yang Berhormat Awg Hj Jumat bin Akim was the unsatisfactory service provided by government departments relating to the completion of numerous projects and responding to applications in a timely manner.
YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Abdul Rahman bin Hj Ibrahim responded that through auditing, the old process has been improved upon and duplication reduced. He said, TPOR (Client's Charter) is useful and continues to narrow gaps between the standard of service given and the public expectations.
The minister added that the government has conducted a survey on the quality of service provided by the government to customers with regard to factors such as professional behaviour and interaction to the environment and facilities.
The minister revealed that based on a 2011 survey, around 70 per cent of people interviewed were somewhat satisfied with public service, however, "This is still not enough. The government has undertaken an effort to improve this. It needs to be much more customer-friendly".
Out of 958 public complaints received by the Management Services Department (MSD) between 1994 and 2012, roughly 89 per cent of complaints were resolved while another 11 per cent are still under investigation.
Meanwhile, YB Hj Awg Jumat bin Akim lauded the Ministry of Development for its quick response when resolving matters relating to burst water pipes and electricity faults.
Yang Berhormat Awg Hj Mohd Shafiee bin Ahmad also raised the need for the MSD to monitor every ministry to ensure that their TPOR is met by introducing an online website for the public to submit their input.
Also, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Maharaja Kerna Dato Paduka Seri Awg Hj Yaakub bin Pehin Orang Kaya Maharaja Diraja Dato Paduka Awg Hj Zainal raised grievances on late payments and claims from the government to local contractors in tender projects. The late payments sometimes stretch up to six months resulting in an inability to carry out projects due to the absence of promised funds.
The Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office replied that during budget deliberations last Saturday, it was highlighted that efforts to speed up such payments are being made through an invoice tracking system - which has been rolled out to seven ministries - and will be rolled out in April and June to another five ministries.
Committees have been formed and meetings have been organised with the respective departments. "We are able to shorten the TPOR for payment from 14 days to five days. Sub Treasury Officers have been directed to be proactive in dealing with any problems relating to payments and the duration of receiving payment by contacting the relevant departments.
Yang Berhormat Awg Hj Sulaiman bin Hj Ahad then raised the issue of perks for daily paid workers and suggested that a 'once in every four years passage fare' be given to daily paid workers similar to monthly paid civil servants. There are currently some 11,553 daily paid workers in the Sultanate.
Daily paid workers also receive perks like a living expenses allowance, special allowance, SCP/TAP and an annual bonus. For civil servants whose salary scales are less than $2,000, they are entitled to receive financial assistance of $25,000 from the government provided they meet the terms and conditions.
With regards to the suggestion that annual leave can be replaced with cash payments by YB Awg Hj Sulaiman bin Ahad, the minister said an in depth analysis would be required first as this would affect the budget.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin