Brunei Rolls Out Roadmap For A Post-Oil Economy
Jan 10, 2021

Brunei’s ministry of finance and economy has unveiled the Brunei Darussalam Economic Blueprint on January 6, a strategic paper which sets goals to help the country move from an economy highly dependent on oil and gas to a “dynamic and sustainable economy.“

The blueprint is part of the country’s economic roadmap for 2035 and also aims to provide “more meaningful and high-value employment opportunities,” as well as to move towards digitisation.

Four main national goals have been identified, namely a sustainable economic growth that is not affected by any economic uncertainties; economic diversification to increase the contribution of the non-oil and gas sector; macroeconomic stability, including moderate inflation, fiscal sustainability and trade surplus; as well as a continuous low unemployment rate.

The 38-page document noted that the country’s heavy dependence on oil and gas was reflected in its low economic growth and high unemployment rate.

Five priority sector identified

In the strategy, five priority sectors have been targeted for growth, namely downstream oil and gas, food, tourism, information technology and communication, as well as the service sector.

Since 2010, the non-oil and gas private sector grew 2.6 per cent annually on average. However, its overall contribution to national GDP was less than 30 per cent.

One of the strategic priorities outlined in the blueprint is promoting internationalisation of companies by facilitating and assisting local business to export their products and expand their operations overseas.

The blueprint also outlined five strategic priorities to ensure Brunei’s workforce is “future-ready.”

One of the strategies is to ensure people are “receptive and adaptive to global trends, while giving full support to national initiatives.”

More creative skills for the workforce

There was also a need to instill “creative, entrepreneurial and innovative traits” across society to ensure that businesses and the people can develop new technologies, ideas and products, the blueprint noted.

In 2019, a total 147,442 locals were employed in Brunei. Of that figure, 49.5 per cent worked in the public sector. Brunei’s unemployment rate stood at 6.8 per cent in 2019, with its highest jobless rate at 9.3 per cent in 2011 and 2017.

In terms of foreign investments, Brunei will adapt a investment and trade-friendly policy to establish new trade opportunities, attract foreign direct investments and open more market opportunities, as per the paper.

Brunei’s exports of goods and services account for about 60.5 per cent of total GDP in the last ten years. As of 2019, foreign direct investment in Brunei amounted to $9.6 billion.

The blueprint also laid a focus on a sustainable environment and eco-friendly and resource-efficient technologies, on an improved economic infrastructure and interconnectivity, as well as on improved public services and transparent and accountable governance, the blueprint read.