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Brunei announces USD440 million defence budget

Brunei's defence budget is at a low point but is forecast by Janes to increase steadily over the coming few years. (Janes Defence Budgets)

The government of Brunei has allocated BND597.67 million (USD440.3 million) for the country's defence budget in 2022–23, the Ministry of Defence (MinDef) has announced.

The expenditure amounts to about 10% of government outlay for the year and a nominal decline of 2% compared with the BND610.17 million (USD450.18 million) defence budget last year. The reduction is linked to economic challenges stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic.

MinDef has not provided details about how the defence budget will be spent. However, it said the new allocation will support the Royal Brunei Armed Forces' (RBAF's) efforts to strengthen Brunei's response to the pandemic.

It said the new appropriation is also aligned with Brunei's 2021 Defence White Paper and an associated emphasis on supporting the Southeast Asian country's ‘whole of nation' approach to defence and security.

Brunei's 2021 White Paper did not identify a list of military procurement requirements, but it did outline a priority to enhance RBAF's capability to address growing strategic threats.

Capability requirements included interoperability and joint operations and improved ability to sustain military equipment locally. Strategic threats included counter-terrorism, territorial disputes in the South China Sea, climate change, and transnational crime.

Other priorities were identified as cyber and space-related capability and the ability to respond to non-conventional risks such as hybrid or grey zone activity.

The White Paper also reiterated Brunei's long-standing emphasis on ‘holistic defence', a term signifying a requirement for cross-sector involvement in national security.

The White Paper also called for MinDef to conduct a review of military equipment requirements out to 2035. MinDef has not confirmed whether this review has commenced.

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