Sultan upholds strong S'pore ties
By Sonia K

Brunei Darussalam and Singapore yesterday celebrated the historic 40th Anniversary of the Currency Interchangeability Agreement (CIA) marking a significant milestone in bilateral relations.

To mark the auspicious occasion, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, jointly launched the new $20 polymer notes issued by the two countries in a ceremony held at the Istana Nurul Iman.

His Majesty in a titah said that yesterday's event was much more than a routine launching of a new banknote.

"Firstly, we are celebrating what the banknote means; a stable currency and stable prices and employment. Vital investment and trade and strong combined financial reserves that enable us to resist speculation and the damaging costs that this can have on our economies.

"And secondly, we are celebrating what the banknote offers to our people and our governments, the chance to pursue our national objectives in peace and stability," His Majesty said.

"Like our friends in Singapore, we see that as being the bedrock upon which successful modern nations are built. In Brunei Darussalam, it is that which gives our people confidence in the future. In terms of currency, it is an instinctive confidence that is reinforced in this new banknote.

"On one side, it shows us as sovereign nations. On the other, it shows us as very closely linked in a crucial aspect of modern life. That clearly sums up our countries' relationship," the monarch added.

"Almost every month these days, we are engaged with our partners in Asean in far-reaching consultations with a vast array of countries and regions.

"These cover an equally vast array of complex considerations involving trade, economic and finance. To most of our people, the technicalities involved can be quite bewildering.

'Today's brief ceremony is unlikely to raise such questions," said His Majesty earlier adding that it was a simple yet very important (event) to celebrate as it gives the people the confidence in the most important practical aspect of their day-to-day life.

The Singapore Prime Minister in his return speech said, "The benefits of the CIA are evident in the healthy growth and trade between our two countries. On the investment front, both sides have invested in fast growing niche areas such as hospitality and medical fields."

He also said that the agreement has also been a boon for tourism between our two countries because it has made it much more convenient for tourists to pay in their own currency.

"In financial year 2005, the total bilateral flow of Brunei and Singapore currencies was more than $645 million," the premier said.

He also said the 40th anniversary event and the launch of the special commemorative notes mark a significant milestone in our bilateral relations.

His Majesty and the Singapore premier then exchanged the new $20 Brunei Darussalam and Singapore notes after they were officially launched.

Also present at the launching ceremony were His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister as the Prime Minister's Office, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah and Ambassador at Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna.

The CIA took effect on June 12, 1967 and was signed by Brunei Currency Board (BCB) and the Board of Commissioners of Currency, Singapore (BCCS). The agreement continues to be in full force and effect following BCCS's merger with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in 2002, and after BCB was renamed Brunei Currency and Monetary Board (BSMB) in 2004.

The CIA allows the Brunei Dollar and Singapore Dollar to be exchanged at par, without charge, in each other's country. Both currencies are freely convertible in the two counties. Through the years, the agreement has brought about economic benefits and strengthened financial links for Brunei and Singapore by facilitating bilateral trade, investments, and tourism.

The CIA has withstood the test of time and underpins the long-standing friendship and mutual trust between the two countries. Yesterday's launch of the new $20 polymer notes reaffirms to the public, retailers and financial institutions in both countries that Brunei and Singapore currency notes are treated on par.

Both countries will issue commemorative notes which will be sold in a set comprising a $20 polymer note of each country. Each set will consist of one piece of B$20 and one piece of S$20 with matching serial numbers, adding up to a total face value of $40 signifying the 40th anniversary. A different set of banknotes will be issued by both countries for circulation. - Borneo Bulletin (28th June 2007)