Bandar Seri Begawan - A Legislative Council (LegCo) member yesterday highlighted the price discrepancies between various brands of baby milk powder.
Raising issues regarding the 2012 Price Control Act, YB Datin Paduka Hajah Salbiah binti Haji Sulaiman said that a tin of baby milk powder weighing 1.8 kilogrammes can cost between $20 and over $30.
"The basic price is already too high. Those who receive a low income will not be able to afford the milk powder for their infants, which could lead to malnourishment. That is why a lot of children are given condensed milk as a substitute," she said.
"Controlling the price of baby milk powder will not be sufficient. There may be a need to subsidise baby milk powder for people with low incomes," she said.
The Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, responded to her queries.
He said that in 2012, Brunei's inflation rate decreased to 0.5 per cent from two per cent in 2011 which was relatively low compared to other countries in the region. Monitoring by Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE) showed that part of the reasons for inflation was the increase in prices of imported food products.
"As these food products were imported, factors that cause the price increase are outside our control. Natural disasters, increase in oil price for shipping cost and others are amongst the causes of increase in price," the Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office said.
In order to ensure the inflation rate in Brunei stays low, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has given consent to the enforcement of the Price Control Act Amendment Order 2012 starting 1 January, 2013, where the total price controlled goods increased from four to 20 types of goods, including various household goods and many more.
The minister elaborated that JPKE monitors and controls goods that come under the Price Control Act Amendment Order 2012. There are a total of 110 types of food and non-food items that are monitored and available for public viewing via local media as well as several websites.
YB Datin Paduka Dayang Hajah Salbiah also discussed matters regarding the National Development Plan (NDP) and Brunei's Vision 2035.
She suggested that JPKE should run a quarterly review in the coming year to find out whether the country is on the right path to Vision 2035.
With regard to the Brunei's Vision 2035 targets. YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Sena Awang Haji Abdul Rahman explained that the previous Legislative Council meetings had discussed the government's efforts towards reaching Wawasan 2035.
Economic growth and its diversification are the key areas of concern in order to see an increase from five per cent to six per cent.
The Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office spelt out suggestions to achieve the targets - diversifying Brunei's economy away from oil and gas; deep water hydrocarbon exploration; improving Brunei's Business Climate; increasing the participation by the Private Sector; encourage and assist Foreign Direct Investment provide a platform for the private sector to utilize outsourcing services; and make use of funds available.
Through the Government Financial Budgeting Year 2012/2013, the Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office said that a number of initiatives had been implemented such as the reduction in corporate income taxes to 20 per cent, the establishment of business development centres such as iCentre and K-Hub. Financial and technical assistance programmes as well as training and scholarship grant and loan schemes amongst some of the initiatives to lead the country in becoming more pro-business. He also mentioned the introduction of acts such as the Bankruptcy Act which allows business owners to start over with a new business, as well as the Patent Act which encourages innovation and protection of ideas and creations.
"In fact, greater investment is needed from the private sectors, either in the form of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) or domestic investment. It is in that direction that the Government encourages the involvement of private sectors to strive to work together in enhancing the economic growth and national development," he added.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin