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GOVERNMENT FINANCES VIEWED FROM HOLISTIC STANDPOINT

The Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam as of July 15, 2006 began increasing the salaries of public sector staff comprising daily-paid employees, as well as personnel of the Royal Brunei Police Force and the Royal Brunei Armed Forces.

This was stated by the Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Hj Abdul Rahman bin Hj Ibrahim during yesterday's afternoon session of the 8th Legislative Council meeting.

This increase in wages represented a rise of between 6.6 and 26.7 per cent, depending on the salary level of officers and staff, where an increase of $111,000,000 was made from the 2005/2006 financial year ($1,495,000,000) and ($1,605,000,000) for the 2006/2007 financial year.

The government has also provided various benefits that include education allowances for permanent and contract staff in the government sector for children aged five to 18 and subsequently up to university level. The government allocates $26,000,000 for this purpose.

The government also allocates an estimated $50.4 million annually for travel allowances. Beginning this year, government officers and staff who have 12 years of public service will receive a special travel allowance to perform the Haj. Previously, civil servants had to wait 15 years before receiving this benefit.

The government also provides home and car loans without interest. The 2010/2011 financial year saw the government spend $49.4 million in expenses for home loans and $47.2 million for car loans.

In addition, the government also provides private housing allowance for public service officers depending on the what division such individuals fall under.

Division III personnel are required to pay $110 per month for private housing, while the government picks up the remaining $1,900 tab. Division II personnel pay $130 per month, while the government pays the remaining $2,500. Such a benefit results in government employees paying $8,000,000 annually and the government paying $147,000,000, resulting in yearly $139 million subsidy.

The minister highlighted that these figures do not include yet more benefits provided by the government such as provisions in health services, free education, water and electricity supplies as well as subsidies on petroleum and housing schemes.

The minister said that it is the aim of the government to do all it can toward providing a high quality of life for the nation's citizens and permanent residents, however, regardless of different scenarios that may emerge, the government must take a holistic approach toward considering such issues as they are heavily aligned with government policies of assisting the development of the private sector for the purpose of economical diversification in addition to providing various job opportunities in the private sector.

He reiterated the importance of viewing the nation's finances as a whole citing the example that if the Sultanate increases salaries of public service staff between 10 and 15 per cent, then the government would have no choice but to allocate a further $200 to $280 million a year to accommodate this.

- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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