Bandar Seri Begawan - The Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has made concerted efforts and initiatives to facilitate the growth of economic activities and local investments as highlighted by the Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Abdul Rahman bin Hj Ibrahim in deliberating the 2013-2014 budget yesterday.
Various efforts such as implementing e-Government projects that could enhance the government service level to facilitate trade and business have been initiated including the expansion of the e-Custom system, the implementation of a business licensing system project under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, as well as the implementation of the e-payment project gateway of the Treasury Department that has subsequently led to the launching of an Invoice Tracking System to tackle the issue of late payment by government agencies to local companies.
Through this tracking system, companies that have submitted invoices to any government department will be given an acknowledgement note by the concerned agency. This will enable companies to track the status of invoices and monitor for payments to be made at specified times. The launching of the system will be implemented in stages. Currently, the system has been utilised by seven ministries while the 'roll-out' for the remaining five ministries are expected in April and June this year.
The Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office also touched on the functions and role of the Patent Registry Office under the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) with cooperation of the Intellectual Property Division at the Attorney General's Chambers. The establishment is to provide an independent patent system and support innovation ecosystem to make it more conducive and effective, especially for local businesses. Entrepreneurship programmes have also been introduced to enhance awareness and nurture interest amongst youths. These programmes are implemented in campuses and a 'hackathon' to gather talents in generating new ideas.
To assist local businesses, His Majesty has consented for several initiatives to facilitate the private sector in line with international best practices. These include the 'deminimis' system, which came into effective on April 1, 2012. This allows non-controlled items brought into the country through couriers to be exempted from import duty provided it costs below $400. This will enable a quicker process to release the products sooner excluding controlled items such as cigarettes and liquor. Import duties for machinery in factory and industrial use are also exempted. Since April 2010, 52 machines worth $9.6 million have been exempted.
The minister also highlighted abolishing the estate duty as revealed by His Majesty to encourage individuals to maintain their assets in the country to further develop and generate economic activities.
Several revisions on import duty rates and excise taxes have also been made to facilitate trade and attract investors. For instance, Import Duty has been voided for paddy-producing machineries. Revisions on import rates for items such as processed wood or yet to be processed items were reduced to five per cent from 20 per cent previously.
Some 343 electrically operated industrial machines had their Import Duty reduced from 15 per cent to five per cent. The tax reduction was also extended to spare parts and accessories such as switchboards, cable, generators and transformers. Meanwhile, taxes for heavy vehicles such as excavators were reduced from 15 per cent to five per cent.
To upgrade facilities and public communications, the government is currently implementing several core infrastructure projects including a bridge linking Temburong to the Brunei-Muara District, upgrading of the Brunei International Airport with a projected cost of $130 million, a link bridge from Sg Kebun to Jln Residency with the 2013/2014 allocation of $15 million and project cost of $70 million, building of the Jln Tutong-Seria, Phase Three for the Telisai-Lumut link road with an allocation of $28 million and project cost of $66 million as well as the construction of a second lane for the Seria bypass with $10.5 million and project cost of $31.5 million.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin