BARMM’s healthy economy is indispensable to survival

Atty. Bayan G. Balt

The report of the Philippine Statistics Office (PSA) for 2019 is encouraging, while the 17 regions of the country posted decline in their economies, BARMM posted the smallest decline of -1.9 percent and garnered P2.8 B worth of investments, according to the 2021 reports of the region’s Board of Investment. BARMM ravaged by war for decades needs revenues and investment to propel its economy and reduce poverty. There are many factors that contribute to economic growth, such as consumer and business investment or infrastructures spendings which designed to create jobs and increase productivity. While there is no single factor that consistently spurs the perfect or ideal amount of growth needed for an economy, however a country who have experienced economic growth are run by expert economic managers, that can pinpoint the right economic policies and direction to attend growth. Economic managers refer to head of agencies and or ministries such as the trade, agriculture, finance, investment or labor and tourism that chart policies of their offices critical to economic growth and the reduction of poverty.

Some countries send their officials to JFK School of Government (Harvard) or Wharton and or Princeton university in the United States of America to learn world’s economy. Corollary BARMM has no graduates or expertise from these prestigious university. However, for BARMM a small region to grow, should appoint some Ministers with a better grasp of the region GRDP’s (Gross Region Domestic Product), Consumer Price Index, (BOT) Balance of Trade, inflation, unemployment and other economic indicators.    

The BARMM’s economy is in a gestation period but with potentials and rich in natural and or marine resources and existing tourist areas waiting for development, when properly tap, the region can economically prosper. To mention a few is the Sibutu waterways and beautiful beaches in the province of Tawi-Tawi, the Oil deposits of the Sulu Sea archipelago, the Moro Gulf fishing grounds, the Liquefied natural gas (LNG) proven reserved in the Liguashan march in Maguindanao and the Lake’s potentials of Lanao and 7 others lakes and waterfalls in the province of Lanao del Sur. This is without prejudice to the existing confirmed natural resources such as gold, coal, copper, cobalt, manganese silver which need the passage of a Local Mining Act by the region’s parliament. The implementing plan of action to exploit these resources need a law to be sponsor in the parliament by heads of the various economic ministries in order to put them in action. The success and failure of the propose law depends on the expertise and knowhow of the economic managers of the concern ministry. Unfortunately, and as of this writing, no law has been passed to utilize the above resources and or promote investment in the region.

Some countries measured their economic growth not by their GDP which is the total monetary or market value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country in a year, but instead by the number of jobs created. I agreed with some economists that only Investment whether local or foreign can create jobs. For BARMM to economically grow, it must invest in infrastructures to create jobs, it must likewise attract foreign investors by improving her investment climate with cheap labor and land costs, and or reliable and cheap electricity, it must review its tax incentives and holidays while its Investment Priority Plan (IPPP) must be attractive to prospective investors. There is also a need to craft policies to engages in aggressive Investment campaign locally and in the Arab and Muslim world. China captured foreign   investments due to its cheap labor costs while Vietnam has cheap labor and land costs, likewise Indonesia and Malaysia have improved investment climate. Compare to these countries, BARMM can be economically develop thru the sincere efforts of its economic manager’s expertise and good governance. Despite fragile peace, poverty can be reduced tremendously, simply investors very purpose is profit.

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*Atty. Bayan G. Balt is a past Chapter President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP-Marawi City and Lanao del Sur, 2013-2015), former Cabinet Secretary of DOLE-ARMM and Chairman of the Ranao Federal State Movement, (RFSM).

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