Often overlooked due to its small size, Brunei is a sultanate comprised of two enclaves surrounded by the Malaysian state of Sarawak, on the northern coast of Borneo in South East Asia. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, is not only the sultan and religious leader, but serves as his own prime minister, minister of defence, foreign minister, and minister of finance, advised by several councils, which he appoints. The country has no central Bank but operates a currency board system with the Brunei Dollar (B$) pegged to the Singapore Dollar, and both being accepted across the two countries.
For many years, the country has benefited from large oil and gas deposits, which have traditionally generated over 50% of GDP, 90% of government revenue and 90% of exports, although generate relatively few jobs. Due to the reliance on the fossil fuel sector, the economy has been affected by lower global oil prices. Most of the population works for the public sector, and unemployment has hovered around 10% for many years.
Conversely, the population enjoys free education and healthcare with a very good GDP per capital of over US$ 30.000 in 2019, and a massive US$ 83,777 in terms of purchasing price parity, making the country the fourth richest in the world. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Brunei government still expects to project positive growth of its economy this year in 2020, although the IMF has reduced its projected growth rate from 4.7% to 1.3%, reflecting the reduced demand for oil and gas. Compared with most countries, Brunei is not showing significant economic impact, although statistics are uncertain. (University of Brunei Darussalam, 2020)
Source: ASEAN Access