9th National Development Plan presented
By M K Anwar

The Ninth National Development Plan for 2007-2011 was presented yesterday at a meeting of the Long-term National Development Planning Board. Chairing this meeting at Balai Penghadapan, Bukit Kayangan, was His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In discussion by committee members was the draft outline of Strategy and Policy Development (OSPD) for 2007 - 2016 while the Department of Economic Planning and Development presented the 9th NDP.

Those present at the meeting include the Minister of Education, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Lela Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman and the Deputy Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Dato Paduka Hj Hamdillah. The committee members have also held a similar meeting in January last year.

The Ninth NDP for 2007-2011 is to succeed the 8th NDP which ended in 2005.

The Government had allocated a total of $7.3 billion for the 8th National Development Plan and had emphasised on the diversification of the national economy especially in the non-oil sector. The Long-term National Development Planning Board was set up in February 2004.

His Majesty announcing the establishment of the planning board in the National Day titah in 2004 said that it will play a role in providing a framework and development plan for a period of 30 years beginning with the 2006 financial year.

The 9th NDP is widely anticipated by economic observers and investors as it will generally outline the focus of economic development of the country for the next five years. The diversification of the economy was given a priority in the 8th NDP with emphasis on small and medium enterprises.

In 2002, B$1 billion was injected into the 8th NDP to help stimulate economy further. In the previous 8th NDP, ICT have been given a major boost when a total of B$526 million or almost 7.2 per cent of the total development budget under the 8th National Development Plan (2001-2005) was allocated to provide basic IT infrastructure.

Environment-related projects were also allocated with B$91.9 million or 1.26 per cent from the total development allocation.

The country's GDP was revised last year and at the current prices of 2005, it was estimated at B$15.9 billion while GDP per capita rated at B$42,900.

In the revised GDP released last year, the nation's oil sector contributed about 57 per cent to the total GDP. The non-oil sector meanwhile accounted for the remaining 43 per cent including 15 per cent from the government sector and 28 per cent by the private sector.

The average annual growth of the economy from 2000 to 2005 had been put at two per cent with the oil sector growing at 0.8 per cent per annum and the non-oil sector growing at 3.6 per cent per annum.

The high growth in the non-oil sector is in line with the nation's policies in diversifying the economy.

The rapid expansion of the non-oil sector is seen in the services sector such as banking, insurance, restaurants and transportation, which all have contributed significantly to the Brunei economy. (18th February 2007)