Development plan for ARMM launched

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By Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan

PEACE, SECURITY, transparency and the development of the Islamic finance and halal industry are at the forefront of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao’s (ARMM) medium term economic plan.

“Being the only region with a predominantly Muslim population, ARMM has a comparative advantage to become the halal hub of the Philippines, serving both the local and international market,” read ARMM’s Regional Development Plan (RDP) 2017-2022 which was launched on Thursday, Dec. 7.

As a member-country of the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area), the Philippines is moving toward increasing its connectivity to the bloc to maximize the potential of the halal industry.

“The ARMM promotes the establishment of Islamic microfinance by piloting the implementation of an Islamic microfinance program for cooperatives, and the creation of an enabling environment for Islamic finance for small, medium, and large-scale enterprises,” read the RDP.

However, it noted that implementing rules for Islamic financial literacy should be made available for both Muslims and non-muslims.

Unlike in conventional banking, Islamic banks comply with the Shariah law, which prohibits lenders from charging interest in its loans.

Still, political risks and armed conflict remain a standing issue for the development plans, according to National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Adoracion M. Navarro.

“Let’s confront political risk and the peace and order problem head on,” Ms. Navarro said at the launching yesterday.

“I’m hoping that this development will survive the political risk, and also hope that transparency and accountability systems will be put in place, and that these will serve the problems that the region is confronting,” she added.

Strategic initiatives in the RDP also focus on improving local government units’ revenue generation and fiscal management, enhancing delivery of services, reducing criminality, drugs and terrorism, and achieving safe and disaster-prepared communities.

By 2022, ARMM aims to raise gross regional domestic product growth to 5.25% from 0.3% last year. The region currently contributes 0.6% to the country’s overall output.

It also aims to reduce poverty incidence to 33.2% from 48.2% in 2016, and increase labor force participation rate to 65% from 53.1% in the same period.

Under NEDA’s Three-Year Rolling Infrastructure Plan for 2018-2020, ARMM will get 955 projects worth P50.71 billion.