Bandar Seri Begawan - Strengthening the private sector is another priority of the 2013-2014 budget revealed yesterday at the Legislative Council meeting by the Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Abdul Rahman bin Hj Ibrahim in his budget deliberations.
It is in line with policy and government steps to diversity in the country's economy. Towards this, the government would continue to strengthen programmes to ensure that the programmes can be implemented effectively to meet the objectives.
The minister added that various efforts have and will be implemented to facilitate business. To date, initiatives taken by the government have improved the country's rank in Ease of Doing Business index by the World Bank.
For 2012, the country has ranked 79 out of 183 countries, up by four places compared to the previous years. Hence, efforts to improve the economy climate of the country to be more pro-business and pro-investment would continue to be intensified and enhanced.
In line with the government's effort under the budget priorities, several special allocations will be provided including $4 million to continue maintenance and upgrading works of industrial sites infrastructures, up by $1 million compared to Financial Year 2012/2013.
Allocations are also provided to support industrial sites development under the 10th National Development Plan (NDP) including $498,000 with project cost of $900,000 for Lambak Industrial Site development and $105,000 with project cost of $5.85 million for infrastructure facilities and services for Belait Industrial Site.
To date, 4,604.6 hectares of land is under the management of various government agencies including the BEDB, BINA, Agriculture and Agrifood Depai intent and the Land Department. Under the initiative of the Energy Department of the PM0 with the cooperation of the BEDB, budget of $12.7 million has been provided to finance works for the provision of oil and gas industrial sector site.
Under the 10th NDP, $51.6 million has been allocated for industrial and trade sectors. These include $1.4 million with programme cost of $100 million for SME's development fund; $14 million with programme cost of $116 million for the development of agro technology park; $3.5 million with programme cost of $13 million for the development and promotion of the tourism sector; $259,000 with project cost of $988,000 for Batu Apoi Cooperative Development plan in Temburong and $595,000 with project cost of $2.5 million for entrepreneurship development and industrial promotion.
Meanwhile, through the BEDB's initiative, $9.8 million with programme cost of S60 million has been allocated for SME development.
The BEDB will also continue the implementation of several initiatives including Local Enterprise Applications and Product Scheme (LEAP) which provides financial assistance until $150,000 for developing prototype or implement pioneering project that has innovative technology which could be commercialised and exported. To date, 14 companies have received such assistance by producing various innovative products and the provision of jobs for locals.
For youth skill acquisition development using private sector sponsored fund which is aimed at assisting youths to find jobs or start business, a micro business grant of $2,000 has been provided each. To date, $240,000 have been approved for over 100 youths.
An allocation of $5.8 million has been provided under the NDP to provide grant and incentives to ICT companies for them to expand their business regionally and internationally.
To upgrade the communication system in the country, the government has allocated $230 million to support fibre to the home project. It would enable high broadband service and such project could stimulate ICT sector through the issuance of creative products.
In addition, the government also allocated $38.3 million to finance Southeast Asia-Japan submarine cable to enhance the Internet network in the country.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin