Brunei Moves toward a Dynamic and Sustainable Economy

Date Published
January 08, 2021
Brunei Darussalam's capital Bandar Seri Begawan. Photo credit: iStock/Sophie James.

Brunei Darussalam launched on 6 January 2021 its Economic Blueprint: Towards a Dynamic and Sustainable Economy, which supports the third goal of Brunei Vision 2035.

The Ministry of Finance and Economy announced that Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has given his consent to use the economic blueprint. In a news release, the government said it will help transform a highly dependent oil and gas economy into a dynamic and sustainable economy that provides more high-value employment opportunities and harnesses the latest technology in line with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Four goals

A report by Radio Television Brunei said the blueprint sets four macroeconomic goals:

  • Achieve high and sustainable growth that is resilient to economic uncertainties.
  • Diversify the economy by expanding the non-oil and gas sector.
  • Attain macroeconomic stability (i.e., moderate inflation, fiscal sustainability, trade surplus).
  • Maintain a low unemployment rate.

The blueprint supports the development of the private sector, which will serve as the driving force of an open and globally connected economy.

Wawasan Brunei 2035 (Brunei Vision 2035) is a long-term development plan to stimulate economic growth. Its other goals are to enhance education and skills development and improve the quality of life in the country to the highest international standards.

Growth in non-oil and gas

Latest data from the Department of Economic Planning and Statistics show that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) at constant prices grew by 0.5% in the third quarter of 2020. The non-oil and gas sector grew by 8%, while the oil and gas sector fell by 5.7%. Downstream activities, such as the manufacture of petroleum and chemical products, drove the growth in the non-oil and gas sector. Lower production caused the decline in the oil and gas sector.

The country has been able to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) with only 172 confirmed cases as of 4 January 2021 since the first case was reported in March 2020. However, like the rest of the world, the pandemic has slowed economic activities in the country. For example, the latest GDP quarterly report shows that air transport services declined by 92.1% in the third quarter because of reduced travel operations, while financial services contracted by 4.4%.

Brunei has rolled out economic and non-economic measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and stimulate the economy toward recovery. The ADB COVID-19 Policy Database estimates the total package of economic measures as of November at $318.12 million.