Growth projected for Brunei’s economy

FEBRUARY 23, 2022

Various reports and studies have shared projections and statistics pertaining to Brunei Darussalam’s economy.

Among them is the Brunei Economic Outlook 2022 published by Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies (CSPS). Brunei’s think tank.

According to the report, Brunei Darussalam’s economy is forecast to expand by 3.7 per cent in 2022, after contracting by an estimated 1.5 per cent in 2021. CSPS said growth in 2021 is expected to be broad-based, largely supported by the downstream oil and gas and services sectors. Despite the growth rebound, the level of output remains well below pre-pandemic projections.

The report also stated that Brunei’s fiscal deficit is forecast to narrow further to 6.9 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, following a substantial improvement in 2021, owing to higher oil and gas revenue. Inflation is projected to be moderate at 1.3 per cent in 2022. Nevertheless, it is still historically high.

However, the report said, the baseline projections are subject to considerable uncertainty and could, again, be derailed by a materialisation of several risks. These include a resurgence of the pandemic, prolonged supply bottlenecks, oil market uncertainty, and unanticipated domestic oil and gas supply disruptions.

“Policy priorities should focus on driving economic recovery especially in the worst-hit sectors, strengthening resilience including increasing investment in the public health system and intensifying digital transformation, enhancing fiscal space by expanding the revenue base and increasing spending efficiency, and advancing structural reforms such as building a more resilient education system, improving the business environment, and strengthening public service delivery,” said the report.

Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2022 launched last month projected Brunei Darussalam’s economy to grow by 3.5 per cent this year and five per cent next year.

The report found that East Asia’s economic performance largely rebounded in 2021. Headline GDP growth was an estimated 6.7 per cent following a sharp deceleration in 2020. However, it added, the recovery is nascent.

A recent study by the ASEAN+3 Regional Economic Outlook (AREO), the flagship report of the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO), expected Brunei Darussalam’s economy to grow by 4.1 per cent in 2022.

Meanwhile, in AMRO’s economic outlook report based on its Virtual Annual Consultation Visit to Brunei Darussalam in October 2021, the Sultanate’s economy was projected to rebound moderately to 2.1 per cent benefitting from the improvement in global oil prices and demand because of the strong global recovery.

Supported by higher oil earnings, the country’s re-tightening of containment measures and extension of support measures should help cushion the economic impact of the current wave of COVID-19 infections, it added.

Last September, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in its Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2021 projected Brunei’s economic growth at 3.5 per cent in 2022.

The report also stated that Brunei’s economic growth was trimmed to 1.8 per cent in the latest ADB update of its flagship economic publication, down from their earlier forecast of 2.5 per cent last April.

In addition, the recently released annual Digital 2022 report by Hootsuite and We Are Social revealed that Instagram users in the Sultanate stand at 250,000 or 70.5 per cent of the country’s population, where most of the users are female (53.8 per cent), while 46.2 per cent are male.

The report also showed that Brunei’s Instagram users are the highest globally in terms of population ratio, reaching audiences of 89 per cent or 319,900 users (by eligible audiences above 13 years) while for Facebook, the Sultanate stands at 17th place globally with 83 per cent (298, 600 users).

Facebook has 190,000 users (53.6 per cent) with 58.5 per cent of users being male and 41.5 per cent female. Meanwhile, for LinkedIn, the number of users stands at 85,000 or 26.4 per cent while Twitter stands at 64,400 or 18.1 per cent.

The top three search queries on YouTube for Bruneians are songs that dominate the top two spots followed by karaoke.

The report also found that 99.3 per cent of local users access Facebook via any kind of mobile phone.

Meanwhile, the total number of active social media users stands at 435,000 or 99 per cent in terms of the percentage of the total population. This corresponds to an increase of 7.3 per cent annually.

In addition, in the Global COVID-19 Index (GCI), Brunei Darussalam was ranked 14th globally and third regionally after Singapore and Malaysia out of 180 countries in terms of pandemic efforts.

It was reported that the success of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme has been instrumental in the country achieving a recovery rating of four with a recovery index of 78.68.