Invest in knowledge education & culture
By Azlan Othman

The government programmes should not just focus on enhancing the country's economy but also look into the aspect of investment in knowledge and education, said His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in a titah at the opening ceremony of the first meeting of the third session of the Legislative Council at the ICC yesterday.

Plans will succeed when we can bring about joint investment encompassing material and cultural aspects. Investment in civilisation/culture has the potential to add to the country's revenues, said the ruler.

Hence, government programmes apart from aiming to improve the economy should also consolidate and enrich the value of lifestyle and culture of the people. "I am convinced that such a task is not extraordinary to carry out if all parties have a common vision and understanding," said the monarch.

Touching on the matters to be discussed during this session, His Majesty said the LegCo members would deliberate on budget expenditure for 2007/2008.

"Without doubt, expenditure is the key to move the country's development machineries. The main objective of the budget allocation is to ensure that the welfare of the people continues to be maintained. With such budget, not only can we plan but also bring the nation on its path to appropriate progress. I hope that all government agencies entrusted with their budget allocations would be able to control it with full accountability and use it as planned," His Majesty said.

"The implementation, monitoring and evaluation (of the budget) should be fined-tuned in order to ensure that parties that have interest in it could effectively and efficiently benefit from them.

"Wise and responsible financial management allow us to move faster in overcoming any obstacles. On the one hand, we should be accustomed to the need to spend prudently and on the other, we should identify priorities without sacrificing the smoothness of the administration that could jeopardise the development, both in the short and long term," said His Majesty.

His Majesty added that every plan and proposal should be considered, in that it should not just be based on the value-for-money requirement but more importantly, its benefits to create culture and values for the nation.

"This is because a country which is deprived of culture and values will not be able to stand and excel. It is not wrong for us to take into account the fact that each budgetary planning should have value and could generate direct and indirect investment," the monarch said.

Speaking on the country's development, the benevolent ruler said, until today, with guidance from Allah, many developments have been achieved.

"In this context, I am pleased on the progress and development ever since the Legislative Council was reinstated. I hope that members of the Council will be able to carry out their task with dedication, intelligence and sincerity.

"What I mean by 'intelligence' is that the members are able to look at all the problems not just from within but beyond the obvious.

"The target is to make Brunei a truly sovereign state, harmonious and peaceful nation. In conclusion, I hope all members will deliberate wisely to uphold the Legislative Council as a highly respectable institution and make it a forum or constructive platform for the longevity of the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) concept.

"I am convinced that under the guidance and wise leadership of the Speaker of the Council, the meeting will run smoothly, independently and achieve its target," said His Majesty.

Also present at the ceremony were His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office and HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Earlier, His Majesty and His Royal Highnesses received royal salutes. His Majesty later inspected a guard of honour mounted by personnel of the Royal Brunei Police Force. (7th March 2007)