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OFFICIAL OPENING REMARKS BY DATO PADUKA HAJI HAZAIR BIN HAJI ABDULLAH PERMANENT SECRETARY, PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE
AT THE OPENING OF NEW HSBC BRANCH IN GADONG
8 NOVEMBER 2001

Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
Bismillahi Rahmanir Rahim
And a Very Good Morning to all

First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to HSBC for inviting me to be the Guest of Honour and to officially open this newly relocated Gadong Branch. I have been informed that this new branch will offer a more conducive banking environment for both personal and corporate banking customers.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has recently announced two new measures designed to help the growth of the economy. The first is a reduction of import duties on cars to 20% for private cars and 15% for heavy vehicles. The second is the injection of $1 billion into the economy through the development projects under the 8th National Development Plan.

These measures certainly will be able to boost the local businesses and industries in Brunei Darussalam and will also help to better the business climate for all banks and financial institutions in the country.

The banking and financial institutions sector comprised a major component of the non-oil and gas sector. Indeed it is also a major contributor to the revenue of corporate taxes for the non-oil and gas sector comprising up to 80% of the non-oil and gas tax revenues. Thus, the banking industries formed the backbone of the economy. Without it, industries will not be able to survive or able to conduct its businesses.

Like it or not, the banking industry shoulders an equally important role with the government in ensuring the development of the Brunei economy. Banks need a prosperous and growing economy for its own growth and the economy needs viable and strong banks to provide them with capital and other financial necessities. We all share the responsibility for the development of the country during good and bad times. An apt Malay proverb is ‘Hati Gajah Sama Dilepah, Hati Nyamuk Sama Dicecah’ which literally translates into ‘Elephant’s liver equally devoured by all, Mosquitoes’ liver equally shared by all’.

The banking industry in Brunei is unique. It is made up of mostly foreign incorporated banks and with only two locally incorporated banks. It is indeed fortunate that the Government has been very flexible with regard to many policies in the banking industry including the placement of foreign reserves held by the banks. This should be complemented by the banks’ forthcoming roles in the development of the economy.

The economy on the other hand has been performing quite well over the last few years despite the financial crisis. Economic growth has not been as high as we would have liked but we have a very stable economy and a very stable government. Coupled with measures recently announced, there are many other places in the world who would gladly trade places with Brunei.

However, given these positive factors, some of the public have been less sanguine with some of the banks’ efforts in assisting the local industries and businesses in their quest for funds and financial assistance from the banking industry. This is something the banking industry has to look into as well as review their existing policies.

The government has to step in, in a number of occasions, providing loans and financial assistance to some sectors of the businesses, such as the micro-credit scheme run by the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources and the capital financing scheme recommended by the Brunei Darussalam Economic Council and run by the Economic Planning and Development Department.

It is very much hoped that HSBC and all banks to continue equally play roles in the development of our economy and hence the development of our local businesses and industries whether during the boom or hard times. In view of the increasing number of graduates from both local and overseas universities and higher institutions, it is also hoped that all the banks assist in providing better job and training opportunities to them especially in view that the government has provided assistance under the ‘apprentice scheme’ which should be taken full advantage.

I am glad to note that the investments made by HSBC in relocating and refurbishing this branch shows that it is a commitment by an internationally renowned bank in Brunei and demonstrates their confidence for the future. HSBC has been supporting the community by providing conventional banking products and services but have also offered e-commerce services such as the e-payment gateway and mobile phone banking services. The recently launched internet banking service is certainly another fine addition. On this happy occasion, I am sure that HSBC is pleased with the move of the Gadong branch to this new premise. Hopefully with this new location, HSBC will be able to better serve its customers and able deliver better services to the rest of the local businesses and community.

Once again, I wish to express my sincere appreciation and congratulations to HSBC for inviting me to officiate at the opening of the new HSBC Gadong Branch and I wish HSBC every success in their future undertakings.

With the kalimah “Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim”, I officially open the new HSBC Gadong Branch.

Wabillahit Taufik Walhidayah, Wassalamu ‘Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh And Thank You.

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