26 November 2021

Yang Berhormat Major General (Rtd.) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports attended the Twelfth ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication (12th AMRDPE) which was hosted by Philippines via video conference. The meeting was chaired by His Excellency Noel K Felongco, Director General of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, Republic of the Philippines as Chairman of the 12th AMRDPE, and attended by the Secretary General of ASEAN as well as Ministers responsible for Rural Development and Poverty Eradication from ASEAN Member States.

With the theme of “Accelerating Recovery and Strengthening Resiliency of ASEAN for Sustainable Rural Development and Poverty Eradication”, the 12th AMRDPE reaffirmed commitment to promote rural development and poverty eradication in the ASEAN region, pursuant to the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint 2025, the ASEAN Declaration on the Gender-Responsive Implementation of ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and Sustainable Development Goals, and the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework.

During the meeting, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports stated that, as ASEAN embarks on the journey to overcome the effects of the pandemic, we need to ensure that our vulnerable groups are not left behind in our recovery and this will be vital to realise the ASEAN Care Economy as we kick start the implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework. The Minister shared that the national COVID-19 vaccination programme is inclusive to all, both in urban and rural areas, where latest statistics show that more than 93% of the population have received their 1st doses, whilst almost 80% have completed 2 doses. 

The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports shared that through the National Plan of Action on the Eradication of Poverty, Brunei Darussalam has undertaken several strategies to strengthen the social protection eco-system through a Whole of Nation Approach:

      a. Improving social service access and delivery across all sectors. Initiatives include the digitalization of registrations and applications for welfare assistance through the National Welfare System (SKN)that utilizes business intelligence; short-term financial assistance for self-employed or freelance workers affected by COVID-19; as well as future plans to integrate applications for in-kind educational assistance, Old Age Pensions, Disability Allowances and housing into the SKN. Provision of affordable housing also continues to be one of the key priorities of the Government, where more than 30,000 homes have been built under the National Housing scheme, and more than 800 homes have or are being built for the underprivileged with assistance from  relevant agencies, bringing even more low-income families closer towards breaking the poverty cycle and building a self-reliant community.

     b. Leveraging on digital transformation strategies to enhance economic recovery of vulnerable groups. E-commerce platforms play a critical role during the pandemic as they not only help micro businesses and service providers but also allowed NGOs to fundraise and mobilize causes to assist those in need. It is therefore essential that the AMRDPE work to address the digital  divide in supporting post-pandemic recovery, not only to stimulate economic activities, but also support educational needs of vulnerable groups, especially the accessibility for those living in remote and rural areas.

     c. Providing skills training and empowerment to cultivate self-reliance and resilience among targeted groups. Skilling, upskilling and reskilling able-bodied and able-to-work welfare recipients and their dependents remains a top priority, focusing on increasing their marketability through training and education, grants and free-of-charge or low-cost incubators to start and run their businesses. Through partnerships with the Manpower Planning and Employment Council and Darussalam Enterprise, the priority towards lifelong learning for all will ensure readiness for the Future of Work in the Post-Pandemic era. 

The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports also shared that towards the realization of Brunei Vision 2035, especially in achieving the objectives for a High Quality of Life, Brunei Darussalam will be developing a Social Blueprint which will consolidate national strategies for a social protection system that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient. 

The 12th AMRDPE Meeting adopted a joint statement whereby, amongst others, the Ministers recognised that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in long-term impacts on the capacities and livelihoods of families, households and communities in rural and urban
settings, and increased the incidence of poverty and deepened pre-existing inequalities. Ministers further stressed on the urgency to accelerate collective action to mitigate the impacts of climate change and to undertake measures to ensure that people living in rural and urban areas are empowered and resilient to natural hazards and climate risks. Ministers agreed to enhance interconnectivity of rural-urban communities to facilitate the dynamic interactions of people and enterprises as well as productive activities across the urban and rural areas; and to strengthen inclusive and resilient recovery from the COVID-19  pandemic. Ministers also agreed to strengthen multi-stakeholder rural development mechanisms especially for rural women and youth participation, and other vulnerable sectors; and tasked the Senior Officials Meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication to undertake cross-sectoral and inter-pillar collaboration with relevant Sectoral Bodies and partners to implement the ASEAN Framework Action Plan on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication 2021-2025.

Also present at the meeting were Yang Mulia Dayang Hajah Nor Ashikin binti Haji Johari, Permanent Secretary (Community and Culture) and Yang Mulia Pengiran Ameer Mubarak bin Pengiran Haji Hashim, Acting Temburong District Officer, representative from the Ministry of Home Affairs, as well as senior officials from the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports. The 12th AMRDPE were preceded by the 18th Senior Officials Meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication on 23 November 2021; the 14th ASEAN Plus Three Senior Officials Meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication on 24 November 2021 as well as the 10th ASEAN Public-Private-People Partnership Forum on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication on 25 November 2021. Two side events were also conducted, namely the 1st ASEAN Symposium on COVID-19 Socioeconomic Recovery Efforts for The Poor and Marginalized Sectors, as well as the Technical Consultation on the Development of the ASEAN Master Plan on Rural Development. 

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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN was founded on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok by the five original Member Countries; Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined ASEAN on 7 January 1984