By ALI G. MACABALANG
COTABATO CITY: Workforces of all ministries and offices in the Bangsamoro bureaucracy must premise their own respective operations on the target goals set forth in the autonomous government’s first development plan, starting from budgeting stage to actual implementation.
Regional Chief Minister Ahod “Al Hadj Murad” Ebrahim issued the directive on July 7 in a message meant to formally introduce the nature and salient points of the First Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP) approved by the Regional Parliament four days earlier for 2020 to 2022 build a robust foundation of the autonomous governance.
The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) was formally established by President Rodrigo Duterte on March 29, 2019 after the overwhelming ratification of its charter, R.A. 11504 in plebiscites in January and February of the same year.
Congress passed the Bangasamoro Organic Law (BOL) with the President signing it into law by the President in July 2018 in legal translation of the government’s major peace accords with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2013 and 2014.
The BOL mandates that “no public money, including the block grant and other national government subsidies and support funds given in lump sum, shall be spent without an appropriations law clearly defining the purpose for which it is intended. The Parliament shall pass an annual appropriations law.”
Since its formal inauguration by the President, the BARMM bureaucracy has embarked on a transitional operations ruled by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), and the enabling target goals have been formally set clearly in the BDP.
In his July 7 presentation dubbed as “Bangsamoro Budget Call,” Chief Minister Ebrahim enumerated eight (8) target goals in the BDP, namely:
1. Establish the foundations for inclusive, transparent, accountable, and efficient governance;
2. Uphold peace, security, public order and safety, and respect for human rights;
3. Create a favorable enabling environment for inclusive and sustainable economic development;
4. Promote Bangsamoro identity, cultures, and diversity;
5. Ensure access to and delivery of quality services for human capital development;
6. Harness technology and innovations to increase socio-economic opportunities and improve government services;
7. Increase strategic and climate-resilient infrastructure to support sustainable socio-economic development in the Bangsamoro Region; and
8. Improve ecological integrity, and promote and enhance climate change adaptation, and disaster risk reduction to sustain resilience of communities in the Bangsamoro.
The forum, organized by the Ministry of Finance, and Budget and Management (MFBM), was attended by budget, planning, and accounting officers of the BARMM’s different ministries, agencies, and offices.
It tackled the policies and guidelines in preparing the ministries’ budget proposals, which include the expenditure management framework, general and specific guidelines in budget preparation, and the indicative budget preparation calendar.
Ebrahim, also serving as Finance Minister, said: “We should plan our operations so that all our programs, projects, and activities are geared towards the gradual achievement of those eight development goals.”
He noted that a well-planned budget is a step closer to achieving the goals.
At the forum, BARMM Regional Darul Ifta Grand Mufti Abu Hurairah Udasan and MFBM Deputy Minister Atty. Ubaida Pacasem presented the budgeting in the Islamic perspective and the budget call, respectively.
On July 3, 2020, the MFBM released the Bangsamoro Budget Memorandum No. 2020-01 or the Bangsamoro Budget Call for the Fiscal Year of 2021, signaling the rollout of the first of the four-phased budget cycle of the BARMM.
The Chief Minister also mentioned the regional government’s adoption of the Cash Budgeting System (CBS) as well as the consolidation of autonomous regional government funds to the Single Treasury Account (STA), among others.
“This strengthens the focus and accountability of the government,” Ebrahim stressed. “Making sure all targeted operations are on schedule, all budget entrusted are fully disbursed within the fiscal year.”
The CBS requires the appropriated budget to include “adequately planned and coordinated” programs, projects, and activities that will be delivered and executed within the fiscal year of 2021.
Last year, the BTA approved the Bangsamoro Autonomy Act No. 3, the legislation which appropriated the funds for the operation of the Bangsamoro Government for 2020.
The appropriations act laid down all the funds allotted to each ministry and office in the BARMM. The 2020 legislation was crafted anchoring the Twelve Point Priority Agenda (12PPA) of the Interim Chief Minister as aligned with the Duterte Administration’s 0+10 Point Socio-Economic Agenda and the Philippine Development Plan. ALI G. MACABALANG