$250m special fund to boost human resources
By M K Anwar

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has consented for the allocation of $250 million to establish a special fund to implement various programmes to strengthen the human resource development in the country.

A press statement from the Prime Minister's Office yesterday stated that by command of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the Prime Minister's Office announces that the Cabinet of Ministers at the Meeting on Tuesday, January 10, 2006 allocated a sum amounting to $250 million to establish a special fund to implement various programmes that would strengthen human resource development in the country.

The special fund called the Human Resources Fund Project is the first of its kind in the country and will complete the National Development Plan, which until now has mainly focused on the country's physical infrastructure development.

The press release also mentioned about feasibility studies that will be conducted which might give way for the country's first National Service Scheme and another scheme called the Overseas Employment Inducement Scheme.

The programmes that will be implemented include the Specialists and Professionals Manpower Development Programme and this will be initiated through what is called the Special Specialists Scheme and the Regular Specialists Scheme.

Furthermore, a Scholarship Programme including the Special Scholarship Scheme, Regular Scholarship Scheme and Education Scholarship Scheme will be utilised.

Four other programmes will be also be implemented under the nation's latest human resource development drive. The Special Programme for Unemployed Graduates will be implemented through the Employment Orientation and Job Matching Scheme and Site Staff Services Scheme.

Meanwhile, for school leavers, the human resource development programme will involve a Skill Development Scheme.

To inculcate a culture of continuous learning, a Programme for Skill and Knowledge Development will be introduced. This programme will be divided into three namely the Skill Enhancement Scheme, Teaching Profession Scheme and Private Sector Training Assistance Scheme.

Another programme to enhance entrepreneurial skills will be the Programme for Entrepreneurial Development which will include a scheme to encourage entrepreneurship and also the necessary training for it.

All programmes that will be introduced will be aimed at upgrading the country's human resources capacity on par with developed countries and to fulfill the needs of economic, political and social development.

They are also aimed at enhancing the skill and advancement of manpower in all sectors in the country by inculcating continuous learning among the local workforce.

Another important aim will be to achieve full employment and lowering unemployment numbers as well as reducing the country's dependence on foreign workers.

Some of the programmes, such as the scholarship programme and other entrepreneurship schemes, have already been implemented. With the injection of the latest financial support, it is believed to cement further its effectiveness and encourage greater participation of those interested.

The Economic Planning and Development Department of the Prime Minister's Office will be responsible in the implementation of the fund as well as overseeing its policy and utilisation under the 8th National Development Plan.

The Human Resources Fund is on top of the allocated Annual Budget for the Education and Human Resources Development sector. For this year alone, $852 million has been allocated for this sector.

His Majesty in the New Year's titah had called for the nation to explore more ways to find new jobs. The monarch had reiterated that unemployment is the nation's enemy and a 'complex' that could affect social stability.

"The more job opportunities available, the better. It signifies that we are creative people. Only creative people are eligible to inherit progress and civilisation," the Sultan said. - Borneo Bulletin (13th Jan 2006)