Brunei Darussalam today enjoys one of the highest standards of living in Asia.
Its per capita income is one of the highest in Asia and it has already achieved almost all the target of the Millennium Development Goals.
Its standards of education and health are among the highest in the developing world.
This has been largely the result of political stability created by His Majesty’s Government’s investment of oil and gas revenues in infrastructure and in the development of far-reaching programme of social welfare.
Current prosperity, however, cannot be taken for granted. If the people are to continue to enjoy their high standard of living, planning must take account of a number of emerging social and economic facts.
Although oil and gas resources have contributed much to the nation’s prosperity, economic growth has, on the whole, not kept pace with population growth.
The public sector that is the main employer of the majority of the citizens and residents can no longer adequately absorb the growing numbers of young people wishing to enter the work force each year.
There is a widening gap between the expectations and capabilities of the nation’s youth and the employment opportunities currently being created.
The oil and gas sector that makes up about half of the economy and over 90% of export earnings employs less than 3% of the work force.
The local business community continues to be weak and is unable to create the employment opportunities now required.
In order to offer its people a bright and prosperous future, Brunei Darussalam must, therefore, adapt to change and all that this entails by way of ambition, innovation and bold planning.
The challenge facing the nation lies in finding ways to do this successfully whilst, at the same time, upholding the values upon which the nation has developed and progressed.
It needs to develop and implement an integrated and well-coordinated national strategy comprising the following key elements:
An education strategy that will prepare our youth for employment and achievement in a world that is increasingly competitive and knowledge-based.
An economic strategy that will create new employment for our people and expand business opportunities within Brunei Darussalam through the promotion of investment, foreign and domestic, both in downstream industries as well as in economic clusters beyond the oil and gas industry.
A security strategy that will safeguard our political stability and our sovereignty as a nation and that links our defense and diplomatic capabilities and our capacity to respond to threats from disease and natural catastrophe.
An institutional development strategy that will enhance good governance in both the public and private sectors, high quality public services, modern and pragmatic legal and regulatory frameworks and efficient government procedures that entail a minimum of bureaucratic “red tape”.
A local business development strategy that will enhance opportunities for local small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as enable Brunei Malays to achieve leadership in business and industry by developing greater competitive strength.
An infrastructure development strategy that will ensure continued investment by government and through public-private sector partnerships in developing and maintaining world-class infrastructure with special emphasis placed on education, health and industry.
A social security strategy that ensures that, as the nation prospers, all citizens are properly cared for.
An environmental strategy that ensures the proper conservation of our natural environment and cultural habitat. It will provide health and safety in line with the highest international practices.
To realize Vision of Brunei 2035, the strategies listed above will need to be developed by both government and private bodies and implemented as a well-coordinated national strategy.