COVID-19: MoFE unveils third set of economic measures, including paying 25% of MSME employees’ salary

Second Finance and Economy Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew speaking at the COVID-19 press conference. The government led press conferences, chaired by the Minister of Health YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham have been taking place daily since March 10, the day after the first coronavirus case was deteced in Brunei.

The Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) has unveiled a third set of economic measures to help the private sector mitigate the impact of COVID-19 outbreak, including paying 25% of MSME employees’ salary for three months.

Second Finance and Economy Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah announced the new measures in a press conference yesterday evening, as COVID-19 cases rose to 120 with the country recording its first death this morning.

The latest measures focus on upskilling and supporting graduates, employees and local businesses with subsidies, training, grants and paid apprenticeships. The first two interim measures announced on March 19 and 21 covered discounts on corporate tax and utilities and deferment on loan repayments and social security contributions.

25% salary subsidy for MSME employees for three months

Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) – defined as businesses with less than 100 employees – can claim 25% in salary subsidies for three months for their Bruneian employees with salaries less than $1,500.

MSMEs need to apply for the subsidy by downloading the form from the TAP website starting April 1 and submit to

Paid apprenticeships: i-Ready scheme expanded to HND/TVET graduates

The i-Ready scheme, a paid apprenticeship scheme for degree holders of up to three years with a monthly allowance of $800 from the government, has been reduced to 18 months and been expanded to include two additional tiers: Bruneians with a Level 5 Diploma (HND or Advanced Diploma equivalent) and those completing Level 2 to 4 under Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET).

Those with degrees and above are to receive a monthly allowance of $800 plus a $400 top-up from their employer/host organization, those with Level 5 Diplomas will receive an allowance of $600 plus a $300 top-up and TVET holders will receive $400 in allowance with $300 topped up.

All top-ups must be borne by the host organisation from the 11-month mark of their apprenticeship. The government will also contribute TAP and SCP payments during their apprenticeship. The availability of i-Ready positions are based on the submitted demand by hiring organisations.

Organisations and graduates looking to participate in the i-Ready scheme can visit JobCentre Brunei (JCB).

Grants and business matching for e-Commerce and logistics

Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) will be prioritising its existing co-matching grant of up to $20,000 for businesses looking to start or expand into e-Commerce and logistics. As dining at eateries has been banned and social distancing is being encouraged during the outbreak, online shopping and delivery provides a convenient and safe alternative to buying goods including daily essentials.

Together with AITI, DARe will also be matching businesses with local e-commerce platforms with delivery solutions. The endorsed platforms, along with information on how to participate, will be announced on April 1 on DARe and AITI’s websites.

Revamping of JCB website

The JCB website has been revamped to streamline the filing of job applications while also adding new features such as real-time notifications for job matches and updates on applications.

Companies will also be able to get talent profiles and compatibility reports on potential employees for particular positions based on algorithms. The Manpower Planning And Employment Council (MPEC) who oversees JCB will also be working with the private sector, especially the sectors of manufacturing, security, online services and logistics, which have been identified as needing a larger workforce.

Online business courses

DARe will be offering its Industry Business Academy online through Coursera, a leading online learning platform that provides business capacity building classes by accredited experts around the globe. Over 300 business-related courses in seven key domains including marketing and sales, finance and accounting, innovation and design and data skills will be accessible to businesses and fully sponsored by DARe.

Upskilling of the private sector

MPEC is encouraging companies to send their Bruneian staff for upskilling and reskilling. MPEC is providing online and hands-on courses in IT, including programming and data analytics, as well as in food and beverage.

Cancellation of rental for all stalls and markets under MoHA for six months starting March 2020

Full statement by MoFE: