Bandar Seri Begawan - The Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies (CSPS) held a closed-door roundtable forum on October 29 at The Empire Hotel and Country Club to socialise and discuss a proposal on the roadmap for a nationwide productivity drive with key stakeholders.
The guest of honour for the event was Dato Paduka Awg Hj Ali bin Hj Apong, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister's Office. Also in attendance were permanent secretaries and senior executives from the private and public sectors.
In his welcoming remarks, the Executive Director of CSPS, Dato Paduka Dr Hj Ismail bin Hj Duraman stressed the importance of productivity growth in all parts of the economy, especially the non-oil and gas sectors.
He added that the CSPS project to drive productivity growth is in line with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam's titah during His Majesty's birthday celebration whereby productivity in both public and private sectors via the application of newest technologies and investment in research and development was highlighted as important to sustain development.
The first presentation, delivered by CSPS Associate Researcher Koh Wee Chian, illustrated the positive relationship between productivity and economic growth. Citing international evidence, he explained why productivity growth is the most sustainable path towards achieving Brunei's national goals, including the need to address Brunei's declining productivity growth, averaging -1.3 per cent in the past two decades, which is among the lowest in Asia and high-income countries, resulting in Brunei's per capita income growth averaging -0.5 per cent over the same period.
In the second presentation, CSPS Local Research Fellow, Awg Ahmad Lutfi bin Hj Abdul Razak described the initiatives practiced abroad to address and improve productivity growth. It was highlighted that most successful national productivity drives are concerted efforts via a central national body and focuses upon a number of productivity functions.
The final presentation, delivered by CSPS Chief Researcher, Dr Diana Cheong explained CSPS's proposal for a national productivity roadmap. It is argued that business as usual is not viable in view of long-term negative productivity growth rates and the extent of the effort required to drive productivity for all economic sectors. A National Productivity Council (NPC) with the highest leadership which is both the policy making body and an implementation body for national productivity programmes and campaigns should be set up if our target is to accelerate towards a Innovation and Efficiency driven economy.
The ensuing roundtable discussions provided useful feedback on the national productivity drive, including insights and experience from the resource panel, consisting of Dr Hjh May Faezah binti Ahmad Ariffm, Director-General of the Department of Economic Planning and Development, Dr Nick Miles, Managing Director of Miles Strategic Consulting and Mr Low Hock Meng, Executive Director of the Singapore Productivity Association. The forum overwhelmingly supported the CSPS proposals and it was agreed that the detailed planning and Terms of Reference (ToR) of the NPC can be worked out upon its formation.
In his closing remarks, Dato Paduka Awg Hj Ali bin Hj Apong stated that Brunei has only recently focussed on productivity as a driver of economic growth, as outlined in the 10th National Development Plan, in which the Government is prepared to invest in education, research and development, innovation and entrepreneurship. Although there has been significant government funding, there is underutilisation and a need to align spending and economic activities to productivity.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin