Brunei, a high development country that benefits from a wealth of natural resources, has one of the highest gross domestic products in the world. While there is no reported poverty line, all signs point to a very successful population and a government structure that could act as a model to the world. In other words, poverty in Brunei is not nonexistent, but it is minimized. Unfortunately, even though Brunei is highly developed and their infrastructure is smoothly run and effective, the nation is a special case, and thus their model cannot be applied to the rest of the world that does struggle with high levels of poverty and strife.
The government of Brunei has not only set up an excellent infrastructure, but the population is also highly educated and benefits from not having to pay income taxes or for medical care. Yet, the government can only afford this social system because of the breadth of natural resources they have at their disposal. Brunei refines crude oil, which is then exported to economic powerhouses around the world such as Japan, which is the primary export market. Since the natural resources are so abundant for the time being, Brunei does not have to worry about them running out, leading to a recession or worse.
Yet, despite the strength of industry, the nation does struggle to make modern adjustments, raising the possibility of a future where poverty in Brunei could become an issue. The recent decline in oil prices has made this concern more plausible, and officials have made it a priority to diversify industry and bring in more foreign investment. The wealth of the country allows them to fix problems before they begin, and the threat of a “resource curse” is one such issue.
Another concern lies in the very small level of poverty in Brunei. While the country has no official measurement of a poverty line, the UN Millennium Development Goals report in 2011 indicated that 5.04 percent of the population is impoverished. The government is already taking steps to deal with the issue, creating a Poverty Issue Special Committee and drafting an action plan for eradicating poverty. While this committee has not led to an official poverty line, it does show that the government of Brunei is proactive and willing to fight for their citizens’ interests.
While Brunei does not struggle with a high percentage of poverty, they still remain an example on how to combat poverty through government action. Creating a committee to deal with this issue before it becomes too problematic and planning to diversify industry and modernize makes the government of Brunei an idealistic, forward-thinking country to observe and emulate.
– Rachael Blandau