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International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
The 2023 Article IV Consultation discusses that Brunei has begun to recover from the pandemic, with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) restrictions lifted and borders reopened in 2022. Brunei’s high vaccination rates have allowed for the removal of COVID-19 restrictions and reopening of borders; however, reduced oil and gas (O&G) production have undermined the recovery. The financial sector remains liquid and well capitalized. High fuel prices helped strengthen the fiscal and external positions in 2022. Inflation hit a historical high but has recently declined. The government is committed to diversifying toward a low-carbon economy. Growth in 2023 would remain negative due to extended O&G infrastructure maintenance, while non-oil sectors will contribute positively to growth, aiding diversification. Inflation is anticipated to moderate further. The overall fiscal and external positions are projected to weaken in 2023 and the medium term. Prioritize human capital development and digitalization, and strengthen the regulatory framework for public private partnership. Consider more extensive participation in regional trade and economic partnerships.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This Selected Issues paper discusses the potential role of carbon pricing for climate mitigation and revenue diversification strategy in Brunei Darussalam. Carbon pricing schemes are gaining momentum worldwide, including in Asia. The paper provides guidance on the choice between carbon taxes and emissions trading systems and their design. The paper compares the impact of several mitigation policies modelled for illustration in Brunei Darussalam. All policies reduce carbon dioxide emissions below baseline levels by 10-50 percent by 2030, with most of the reductions coming from the power generation and industry sectors. The policies also raise revenues equivalent to 1.6–7.2 percent of gross domestic product above the baseline in 2030. The policy yielding the most of emissions reduction and the most revenues is the combination policy of a carbon tax reaching $50 per tonne by 2030 and the fuel subsidies phase-out. The policy yielding smallest emissions reduction and revenues is feebates.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
After successfully weathering the pandemic in 2020, Brunei was hit by new waves of COVID-19, with case numbers going up significantly and new lockdown measures imposed in H2 2021. Reduced activities in mining and LNG manufacturing, combined with the negative impact of new pandemic variants on domestic services, led to a slowdown in the economy. Real GDP contracted by 1.6 percent in 2021. For 2022, growth is projected to rebound to 1.2 percent, on the back of easing of mobility constraints and a positive terms of trade shock due to surges in O&G prices. Inflation, while remaining relatively low at 2.2 percent at end 2021, has increased in 2022 and pressures are expected to remain elevated in the short term, owing to supply disruptions and higher food and fuel prices. The economy continues to diversify, with double-digit growth of the food/agriculture sector and a new fertilizer sector commencing production. The risks to the outlook are tilted to the downside, due to potential new COVID-19 variants, increased global uncertainty associated with an escalation of the war in Ukraine, monetary tightening from the US and a larger-than-expected growth slowdown in China. On the upside, higher energy prices would further improve the terms of trade and restore fiscal positions in the short term, while partially contributing to build the buffers needed to ensure stronger intergenerational equity. Strong policy actions are needed to boost medium-term growth and foster resilience.
International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.
An External Sector Statistics (ESS) technical assistance (TA) mission was conducted remotely to Brunei Darussalam, during July 26–29, 2020, aimed at improving the quality of ESS, in line with the authorities’ request. This is the most recent TA mission on ESS to Brunei Darussalam following a previous one that took place more than 16 years ago by the IMF’s Statistics Department.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Brunei’s economic performance—which was strong before the COVID-19 pandemic—has been buffeted by the health crisis and a pandemic-induced oil and gas price shock. The authorities responded fast and decisively. The number of new infections was quickly suppressed, thanks to a swift public health response, effective health measures and non-pharmaceutical interventions. Strong fiscal and regulatory policy responses helped sustain production and household income and consumption. Past diversification efforts and reforms bore fruit when it was most needed. As a result, the economy performed strongly in 2020, with real GDP posting positive growth of 1.1 percent—a rare outcome amidst negative growth in the region. Economic activity is projected to strengthen in 2021-22, albeit at varying speeds across sectors, and to continue improving over the medium term on the back of further diversification. The outlook is, however, subject to unusual uncertainty, with significant risks skewed to the downside. Sustained strong policy actions are needed to ensure continued resilience, while nurturing green, digital and inclusive growth.
Mizuho Kida and Simon Paetzold
The Financial Action Task Force’s gray list publicly identifies countries with strategic deficiencies in their AML/CFT regimes (i.e., in their policies to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism). How much gray-listing affects a country’s capital flows is of interest to policy makers, investors, and the Fund. This paper estimates the magnitude of the effect using an inferential machine learning technique. It finds that gray-listing results in a large and statistically significant reduction in capital inflows.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This 2019 Article IV Consultation highlights that Brunei’s economy has been adjusting to declining oil production since 2010 and lower oil and gas (O&G) prices since 2014, with the authorities undertaking wide-ranging reforms. Growth is expected to pick up in 2019 to 1.8 percent, with the outlook improving further over the medium term, driven by stronger O&G activities from asset rejuvenation and large foreign direct investment projects. The authorities have made substantial progress in fiscal consolidation, improving the business climate, and developing the financial sector. The fiscal consolidation initiatives include corporatization and privatization, public-private partnership, evaluation of subsidies against targets, fiscal management enhancement, revenue diversification, and amalgamation of the government’s asset management system. The IMF staff supports the authorities’ initiatives to develop the financial sector, while safeguarding financial stability and integrity. The initiatives include steps to broaden the investor base, establish a secondary bond market, develop the required infrastructure and rules for establishing a stock exchange, and put all the three pillars of Basel II in place.