Big chunks of P75.6-B BARMM’s 2021 budget set for infra, education, health concerns

By Ali G. Macabalang

Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim, right, handed the 2021 BARMM budget bill to Regional Parliament Speaker Pangalian Balindong. (Photo suppplied)

COTABATO CITY

In its bid to squarely address high illiteracy rate and dismal infrastructure facilities alongside rising demands for health and medical services in the autonomous region, the Bangsamoro interim government has allocated big chunks of its P75.6-billion budget in 2021 for the education, public works and health sectors.

As Congress regularly appropriates the biggest portion of national budgets for education, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) parliament in its budgeting outputs for 2020 and 2021 did the same on even higher degree since its own domain is known for having the highest rate of illiteracy across the nation.

But local education authorities assert that the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s (BARMM’s) lowest literacy rate is premised by the national government on its conventional or regular curriculum assessments.

In Arabic, which is also a universal language, BARMM has the highest literacy rate all-over the country, according to members of the Ulama (Islamic scholars) Council of the Philippines.

They said the provision of biggest budget for education is imperative since the BARMM bureaucracy integrates not only Arabic education with regular (English and Pilipino) instructions but has also fused functions of three agencies –Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education Skills Development Authority, and Education Department – through the Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education (MBHTE).

The BTA Parliament passed on Dec. 23 the ₱75.6-billion 2021 budget of the BARMM government, with interim Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim signing the enabling bill into law instantly.

Under the 2021 regional budget, the MBHTE is appropriated with M ₱23.5 share, which constitutes largely salaries for close to 13,000 regular curriculum teachers and hundreds of Arabic mentors, it was learned.

The Office of the Chief Minister (OCM) got the second largest appropriation at ₱10.2 billion, followed by the Ministry of Public Works’ ₱15.7 billion budget.

The Ministry of Health is allocated with ₱5.1 billion share, while the Ministry of Social Services and Development is appropriated with ₱3.3 billion.

The Bangsamoro Information Office (formerly Bureau of Public Information) said the 2021 budget, with ₱11.2 billion allocated for Special Purpose Fund, is broken down as follows:

  • Office of the Chief Minister (OCM) – ₱10.2 billion
  • Ministry of Finance, Budget, and Management (MFBM) – ₱389.6 million
  • Ministry of Social, Services, and Development (MSSD) – ₱3.3 billion
  • Ministry of Trade, Investments, and Tourism (MTIT) – ₱323.5 million
  • Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE) – ₱274.1 million
  • Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) – ₱623.2 million
  • Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education (MBHTE) – ₱23.5 billion
  • Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs (MIPA) – ₱105.2 million
  • Ministry of Health (MOH) – ₱5.1 billion
  • Ministry of Public Works (MPW) – ₱15.7 billion
  • Ministry of Interior Local Government (MILG) – ₱1.05 billion
  • Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy (MENRE) – ₱553.7 million
  • Ministry of Human Settlements and Development (MHSD) – ₱811 million
  • Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) – ₱197.2 million
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reforms (MAFAR) – ₱1.5 billion
  • Ministry of Public Order and Safety (MPOS) – ₱108.8 million
  • Office of the Wali – ₱33 million
  • Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority (BPDA) – ₱85 million
  • Bangsamoro Attorney General Office (BAGO) – ₱41 million
  • Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission (BHRC) – ₱97.4 million
  • Bangsamoro Women Commission (BWC) – ₱71.6 million
  • Bangsamoro Youth Commission (BYC) – ₱76.7 million

The ₱75.6-billion budget is appropriated out of the annual block grant from the national government, share from the national taxes, fees and charges collected in the Bangsamoro territorial jurisdiction, and projected collections on regional taxes, fees and charges for the operation of the BARMM government for entire 2021, the BIO said.

The regional parliament has appropriated P3.7-billion for its full operation in 2021, the information office said.

The parliament’s 2021 budget indicated an increase by ₱1.1-B over the legislature’s ₱2.6-billion2020 budget owing to “the approval of our improved and more robust organizational structure,” according to Parliament Member Anna Tarhata Basman, chair of Committee on Account and Audit.

In his message for the 2021 regional budget passage, Chief Minister Ebrahim said the new appropriation differed in focus from last year’s budgeting because of “the inclusion of efforts” to address the COVID-19  pandemic and push further the building of “responsive and moral governance.”

He said the Bangsamoro government remains focused on priority initiatives mandated under the Bangsamoro Organic Law (R.A.11054) relative to health, education, and social services.

“We intend to broaden the scope of (our) existing programs and expand it down to the grassroots,” he said. AGM

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