THE Ministry of Defence (MinDef) has been allocated a proposed budget of $ 564 million for the 2016/2017 fiscal year – an increase of 4.7 per cent from the previous year, the second minister of finance revealed during the 12th session of the Legislative Council yesterday.
Despite the increase of $ 27 million in defence spending, the Second Finance Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdul Rahman Hj Ibrahim said the ministry will adopt several “austerity measures” in light of weak global oil prices.
YB Pehin Dato Hj Abdul Rahman said several planned projects had to be postponed or cancelled in order to adopt more prudent spending, and that some services may be outsourced to improve efficiency.
The minister added that MinDef will have to make maximum use of its facilities, as well review rental rates for the Brunei Darussalam International Defence Exhibition Hall so that its revenue will cover the cost of maintenance.
Staff salaries comprise $ 330 million of the MinDef budget allocation, while recurring expenditure was down 17 per cent totaling $ 139 million, and special expenditure amounted to $ 94 million.
“This amount includes provisions for upgrading defence capabilities that were previously under the control of the Ministry of Finance and has now been transferred to the Ministry of Defence,” said YB Pehin Dato Hj Abdul Rahman.
He added that the proposed budget was aimed at defending Brunei’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but would also place emphasis on resource-sharing and streamlining processes.
The minister said it was important to advance defence diplomacy and maintain Brunei’s participation in international peacekeeping and humanitarian missions.
“Defence diplomacy has enhanced regional security, creating an environment conducive to peace…The region in which we live is relatively stable, the main task at hand is to prepare for the future security environment, which can be difficult to predict.”