Country with no oil, but reserves that may never run out?

By Leong Sze Hian

You are right – it’s Brunei

After writing the article “Country with free healthcare, pension, no income tax, etc” (Apr 8), most of the readers were correct in identifying the country as Brunei.

Oil reserves will run out?

Quite a number of readers commented that it’s generosity to it’s citizens is because it has oil reserves, which will run out eventually.

Reserves that may never run out?

Well, I found another country that is rumoured to have about a trillion dollars in it’s reserves. If it gets an average annual return of say about 6 per cent, and spends say 4 per cent a year, is it not in a way, like “oil reserves” that may never run out.

Just for argument’s sake – 4 per cent is about $40 billion, which may make a world of difference to it’s citizens since it’s total government operating and development expenditure is about $50 billion a year.

The country?

Here’s some information on this country.

A country that has

  • spent probably the lowest public spending on healthcare in the world, at about only 1.6 per cent in the previous fiscal year
  • spent practically nothing on pensions for its citizens (it has a contribution pension plan from your salary, with the highest contribution rate in the world, at 36 per cent)
  • allowed university tuition fees to increase by as much as 11.2 per cent per annum from 1986 to 2013
  • a Public Assistance Scheme for only about 3,000 people, out of a citizen population of about 3.3 million
  • no monthly allowance for orphans
  • no monthly allowance for the disabled
  • one of the most expensive public housing in the world
  • one of the lowest income tax rates in the world – maximum of 20 per cent for high income earners
  • inflation of  4.9 per cent (February 2013)
  • an unemployment rate of 3.0 per cent for citizens (2012)
  • population annual rate of increase of 2.1 per cent (0.8 per cent for citizens, 1.9 per cent for foreigners) (2012)
  • labour force participation rate of 66.6 per cent (2012)
  • been classified as a developed country
  • been ranked 3rd in the world by gross domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity
  • public debt at 106% of the national GDP
  • a ranking of 26th in the world for the Human Development Index  in the Human Development Report released by UNDP
  • taken in about 25,000 new citizens and 30,000 permanent residents per year

And this country is _______



World Bank

The country’s Key Indicators

International Monetary Fund (IMF)