Brunei Business Forum 2012 to address productivity, growth

Posted on  21/11/2012  |  Media Centre

Article from Borneo Bulletin. Published on Wednesday Nov, 21 2012

Asia Inc Forum, in partnership with HSBC, Total, Butra HeidelbergCement and Aloca will convene a half-day Brunei Business Forum on November 22 at the Radisson Hotel.

The forum themed “Unlocking Productivity, Fuelling Growth” will discuss the urgent need to position productivity and efficiency as the key driver of economic growth in Brunei.

According to a press release, speakers at the forum include Dr Diana Cheong, Chief Researcher for the Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies (CSPS) and His Excellency Rob Fenn, High Commissioner of the British High Commission. Dr Cheong will present CSPS’s proposal to establish a national productivity roadmap to drive productivity growth while His Excellency will present his thoughts on how knowledge and innovation can fit into productivity growth.

According to Dr Cheong, “CSPS believes that a National Productivity Council (NPC) with the highest leadership which is both the policy making body and an implementation body for national productivity programmes and campaigns should be set up if Brunei is to accelerate towards an Innovation and Efficiency driven economy.”

As the Chief Researcher for CSPS, Dr Cheong is responsible for the design, planning, management and implementation of research and consultancy work undertaken by CSPS. Dr Cheong’s current engagement at CSPS to date includes the successful completion of three macro level studies; a nationwide feasibility study into alternative energy, a national roadmap for energy efficiency and conservation (EEC), and, a land optimization strategy for industrial growth for Brunei. CSPS is Brunei’s leading think tank for policy analysis in areas of strategic importance to the nation.

His Excellency Rob Fenn who arrived in Brunei in 2009 represents UK as the steward of a relationship precious to both countries. Britain and Brunei respect their long traditions, which provide an anchor in a fast-changing world. The High Commissioner hopes to build on that foundation, and help Brunei seize all its opportunities in the Twenty-first century.

According to His Excellency, “Preoccupation with higher productivity is a distinguishing feature of intelligent government, so it is no surprise to find the Brunei government thus preoccupied. I very much look forward to debating the issue with Asia Inc Forum and others on Thursday.

If the UK’s experience is anything to go by, we will not find the answer in any one fix, or raft of reforms. It is about the efficiency of the national system. But it is also about trade-offs between different national priorities, not all of which can always be aligned behind a productivity drive. In Brunei, the answers may include deriving the maximum possible productivity benefits from development initiatives which are also desired on other grounds. I think of the benefits which will flow from the government’s prioritisation of research in areas which are in any case destined to enjoy relatively high levels of capital investment – health and education; or in which Brunei has a unique selling point: energy and biodiversity. Or in areas where ethical and developmental goals are brought together, such as Brunei Halal and Agro-Technology. I particularly like the idea to provide business experience to UK-based Bruneian students by involving them in the new, UK-based operation of Brunei Halal.

Other significant productivity gains are to be had from the government’s current focus on vocational and technical education, so that it is Bruneian technicians, rather than foreign imports, who take up the jobs being created in the energy sector. I have just come back from a visit to the UK during which I explained the Brunei market to a host of FE colleges in the UK – notably TVET UK and “The Gazelle Group” – both of whom now plan to visit Brunei to see whether they can become part of the answer”.

Fatin Arifin, Programs and Research Executive, Asia Inc Forum, “Together with our corporate partners, we would like to facilitate the shift to productivity effectively through this year’s forum by providing the platform for dialogue to address key areas around how we can unlock productivity in Brunei that will drive economic growth and how knowledge and innovation fits into the picture. There will be a town hall session that will enable participants to participate in the discussion to share their insights and input into this very urgent matter,”

The Brunei Business Forum is a forum for CEOs, entrepreneurs, members of government and the next generation of Brunei to dialogue around business prospects, issues and best practices.

For more information, contact Fatin via email at