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This year, for the first time in many years, I was not involved in the National Day event. It was strange but I felt this pang of sadness as I watched the wet parade on TV. I would have happily marched with my fellow Bruneians that morning in the rain to show my love for my country. Anyway, next year insya’allah.

So, on our beloved nation’s 33rd birthday, what does the report card look like and what’s the outlook? Well, in terms of achievements, I think we’re still chugging along towards vision 2035. Diversification of the economy towards less dependence on the currently dismal hydrocarbon industry is proving as difficult as we had expected. Not for lack of trying though.

The formation of DARE or Darussalam Enterprise is the latest effort from the government in pushing for a more vibrant, innovative, and sustainable market environment in the non-hydrocarbon sector. There is a strong push towards nurturing and supporting local enterprises from start-up to growth. DARE works closely with government and non-government agencies locally and abroad to foster the growth of business enterprises and increase GDP contribution. Through DARE, a common and unified approach is taken to direct, support and encourage the growth of local enterprises under a single body represented and driven by the private sector.

I’ve been to a few of the engagement sessions between DARE and its stakeholders. Slowly but surely, things are moving in the right direction.

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