Finance and Investment

Financial Literacy Survey and National Strategy

This is a study commissioned by Authority Monetary Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) and the objectives of this study were:

  • To measure the level of financial literacy. This was done primarily with the use of a specially designed national survey of the adult population (the Financial Literacy Survey).
  • To provide policy recommendations, best practices and a national strategy for promoting financial literacy.

Six target groups for the National Strategy were identified: young adults, the elderly, people with low or unstable income, inactive or unemployed adults, people with lower education, and indigenous groups.

The Financial Literacy Survey is the first and only national study on financial literacy in Brunei Darussalam. The findings constitute the baseline for future measurement of progress in financial literacy, and allows for international benchmarking.

Nearly half of the Bruneians do not achieve a sufficient score in the Financial Knowledge area. Bruneians are particularly lacking in numeracy skills and understanding of the compound interest mechanism. Most individuals have positive attitudes toward planning for the future, but positive attitudes do not necessarily translate into behaviour change because of poor knowledge and lack of financial resources. The most common at-risk behaviours were identified as follows: lack of information before purchase, late bills payment, inadequate family budget, lack of active saving behaviour.

The recommended strategy includes four policy themes: Financial Education; Financial Information and Advice; Institutional Design; Governance, Networking, and Evaluation.

The recommended National Strategy, based on these findings, has been adopted by AMBD to promote financial literacy in the country, and it is included in the fifth pillar of the Brunei Darussalam Financial Sector Blueprint 2016-2025.

A CSPS forum on Financial Literacy was held in Oct 2015. This study has been published as a CSPS Report in 2016.

White Paper on Reducing Cross Border Expenditure by Making Brunei the Preferred Holiday Destination for All by 2020 (2015)

The overall objective of the White Paper is to reduce the high rate of cross border expenditure (incurred by Bruneian visitors abroad) by specifically addressing how we can improve the leisure and recreational options in Brunei Darussalam so that our locals will choose the country as the preferred holiday destination. This White Paper was commissioned by Authority Monetary Brunei Darussalam (AMBD).

Two surveys of local Bruneians and overseas visitors were conducted by CSPS in order to provide empirical data for the recommendations of the White Paper, in addition to focus group interviews and workshops with the wider community.  A major implication of the stated CSPS surveys is that it is clear that our local Bruneians and overseas visitors can be persuaded to choose Brunei Darussalam as their preferred holiday destination if appropriate leisure and recreational attractions were to be developed and or offered within the country.

The White Paper proposes for 4 strategic initiatives which are financially low cost and can be completed in a short to medium term of 10 years:

  • Jerudong Integrated Leisure Destination: Marine & Leisure Park
  • Bandar Seri Begawan City Development: Kg. Ayer Cultural Park and Heritage Trail
  • Five National Theatres for Brunei
  • Temburong Eco Sanctuary Resort and Nature Adventure

A critical mass of at least 25,000 local and overseas visitors per week is aimed for and the Strategic Initiatives were selected according to the guiding principles of promoting economic growth, competitive offering, environmental sustainability, social sustainability, financial sustainability and physical viability.

It was recommended that a Steering Committee, with the most senior leadership under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) or the Ministry of Primary Resources & Tourism (MPRT), be established in order to successfully implement the Strategic Initiatives. The most important prerequisite to the success of the Strategic Initiatives is the securing of funding, be it government or private.

The CSPS White Paper has been endorsed by AMBD and its implementation is under discussion by AMBD and MPRT. This study has been published as a CSPS Report in 2016.

Cross Border Expenditure of Bruneians in Miri, Sarawak (2015)

This Policy Brief is based on a survey study which tries to understand (1) the levels of spending amongst Bruneian visitors in Miri, (2) the expenditure patterns of types of goods and services purchased by Bruneians visitors in Miri, and (3) reasons for such spending. The objective of the policy brief itself is to report on the survey findings of cross border expenditure of Bruneian visitors to Miri and to outline the main policy implications and recommendations.

A survey involving 594 groups of people coming back from their trips to Miri, through Sungai Tujoh Immigration Control Post, was conducted on two consecutive weekends from the end of August, 2014 just after payday.

Our survey findings show that Bruneians spend a total of B$ 205.16 per group per trip, which corresponds to a total of B$ 61.3 million a year. This estimated amount represents 1.4% of household final consumption expenditure in 2013. As it is quite a low figure comparatively, we argue that it is not a major policy concern by itself. It would seem that a large number of Bruneians are visiting Miri not just for shopping but as a preferred leisure and entertainment venue. There is a significant element of shopping for necessities in Miri especially amongst low income Bruneians.

The main policy implications of this study include the need to improve the competitiveness of our local retail sector for more variety and price competitiveness of goods and services, encourage inward cross border shopping and tourism, improve our own leisure and entertainment provision to encourage Bruneians to spend their leisure time in Brunei Darussalam itself, increase the livability of the Belait district, better customs enforcement and a review of fiscal measures for importation of goods. Lastly, there is a need to revise social policy in Brunei Darussalam in particular towards improving access to necessities for low income groups. Low-income Bruneians are spending their income in Miri because they can buy more necessities, and this is an indication of the existence of poverty within the country. In this context, the increasing numbers of Bruneians going to Miri is often more a symptom of a social problem in Brunei Darussalam itself, rather than the cause of the policy issue under review.

This study has been published as a CSPS Policy Brief in 2015.