BTA approves P79.8-B budget for BARMM in 2022

By Ali G. Macabalang

Bangsamoro Transition Authority BTA) Parliament in session. (File)

COTABATO CITY — The interim Parliament of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has passed the proposed P79.862 billion budget of the regional government for 2022, reflecting a 6% increase over the current regional budget of P75.6 billion, according to the legislature’s information division.

By a vote of 59-0-0, members of Parliament approved the 2022 Bangsamoro Expenditure Program (BEP) on third and final reading, an hour after the plenary passed the measure on second reading on Tuesday, Dec. 28, Sheila Dela Cruz, Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Information, Publication and Media Relations Division head, said.  

The BEP was certified as urgent by BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, in effect waiving the three-day mandatory interval between the second and third reading of measures, Dela Cruz said.

The regional budget measure was proposed as Cabinet Bill 155 titled “An Act Appropriating Funds for the Operation of the Bangsamoro Government from January 1 to December 31, 2022 and for other purposes,” she added.

She said Lawyer Ubaida Pacasem, deputy minister of Finance, Budget, and Management, underscored the use of the new budget to spur recovery initiatives from the COVID-19 economic recession and other priority concerns in the region.

The BEP will fund regular activities of the BARMM’s ministries and line agencies, including purchases of goods and services for day-to-day operations; public service deliveries; conduct of basic governance; and providing general management and supervision of the entire Bangsamoro Government.

As usual, the Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education has the biggest allocation at P24.7 billion, followed by the Ministry of Public Works (P16.3 billion); Office of the Chief Minister (P8 billion); Ministry of Health (P4.6 billion), the BTA parliament (P3 billion), and the Ministry of Social Services and Development (P2.6 billion), it was learned.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform is allocated with (P1.5 billion); the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (P1.2 billion); the Ministry of Human Settlement and Development (P814 million); and the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy (P642 million).

Enhancing adaptation to new normal

The education ministry has received the biggest chunk of the budget in 2020 and 2021 to bankroll initiatives meant to improve the learning environment by adapting to the new normal shaped by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in the academe. Its new budget reflects a 5% increase over its current P23.2 billion budget.

For Basic Education, the ministry continues to strive for school-based management and operations; provide MOOE for regular operation of all schools and divisions across the BARMM; provide all public school learners with health and nutrition services to allow them to reach their full educational potential and ensure the wellness of its teaching personnel; and implement fully its agenda: “No child shall be left behind.”

In the higher education sector, the ministry will provide assistance to qualified senior high school and alternative learning system graduates.

For the technical education sector, the MBHTE is pursuing a Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Scholarship Program that covers both community-based and institution-based training programs that seek to address the specific skills needs of the communities and promote employment through entrepreneurial, self-employment, and service-oriented activities.

Madaris Education has two (2) programs for 2022: Madaris (Arabic schools) Standards and Provision, and Madaris Asatidz (teachers) Program.

To ensure uninterrupted educational services, the BARMM’s education ministry will continue to employ provisional teachers. The ministry also includes the provision of learners’ and teachers’ kits, armchairs, and learning materials.

COVID-19 response plan for healthcare system

The Ministry of Health has equally gained substantial budget for continued response measures to the post-threats of the viral pandemic, prioritizing provision of furniture and fixtures, implementing the COVID Response Plan, achieving regional herd immunity, and upgrading the operations of public hospitals in the Bangsamoro region.

The ministry allocated a budget for the development of barangay health stations, medical scholarship program for medical doctors and midwives, financial assistance for barangay health workers, and construction of offices in the special geographic area.

It also set aside funds for medicine and vaccines to ensure that children and adults in the region are protected. It also seeks to increase its services to the communities by constructing field offices in BARMM’s special geographic area comprising the 63 barangays in North Cotabato that have opted for inclusion in BARMM terriroty.

More infrastructure projects

The Ministry of Public Works seeks proportionate budget for its Road Network and other Public Infra Facilities plan, aims to improve road connectivity and attract investors from the private sector, the local government units, and other associations and cooperatives to invest in the Bangsamoro region for the processing, handling, and distribution of agricultural products, particularly in the region’s rural areas.

The same plan aims to construct 570.75-kilometer roads allocated proportionally for towns, cities and provinces in BARMM. The region covers 123 towns in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Cotabato, Marawi and Lamitan.

The MPW also targets the construction of 54 bridges as part of BARMM’s infrastructure to ease the transport of raw materials and finished goods and services in the region.

The Flood Management Program entails the construction of 99 flood control and drainage systems, as well as 32 slope and shore protection measures. These investments will aid in improving flood management (flood mitigation and flood preparedness) to protect vulnerable communities and increase climate change resilience.

The MPW is also committed to strengthening the water systems in the region by providing a safe, sustainable, and sufficient water supply for drinking. The Water Supply Program targets the implementation of 139 water systems.

The Port Rehabilitation Program will help with the expansion of the region’s business and tourism industries. A total of 31 seaports will be rehabilitated or built as part of the program.

Multi-sector response

The Office of the Chief Minister (OCM) sought a P8 billion budget for 2022 as it continues its legacy of responding to the immediate needs of the Bangsamoro people, not only within the autonomous region but in other parts of the country.

The Quick Response Fund and Marawi Rehabilitation Program got the bulk of the OCM’s budget for 2022.

Among the programs and projects of the OCM are: Kapayapaan sa Pamayanan (KAPYANAN); Social Enterprise and Economic Development; Strengthening Community Governance, Peace, and Development; Water and Sanitation and Health; Tulong Alay sa Bangsamorong Nangangailangan (TABANG); Ayudang Medikal mula sa Bangsamoro Government (AMBaG), and the provision of decent housing.

The OCM also plans to implement various infrastructure projects and support the 47 non-IRA barangays.

Source of Funds

The BARMM’s main source of revenue is the Block Grant automatically appropriated yearly in the national General Appropriations Act and released promptly to the Bangsamoro Government.

The Block Grant, as envisioned under the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) or R.A. 11054 is equal to 5% of the net national internal revenue tax collection of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for ten years reckoned upon the establishment of BARMM in 2019. (AGM)

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