THE RULES under which Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) may accept foreign grants and donations have been approved, the Department of Finance (DoF) said Tuesday.

The rules were cleared last month by the Intergovernmental Fiscal Policy Board (IFPB), the DoF said in a statement.

The Bangsamoro government is required to notify the DoF when it starts talks with potential foreign donors, giving the National Government lead time to prepare the requirements for receiving the grant.

A more coordinated response by the BARMM and National Government prior to negotiations and signing will “facilitate issuances of requests for Office of the President (OP) Approval or Special Authority.”

“The IFPB’s goal in issuing the guidelines was to streamline the process for the Bangsamoro government in receiving grants (to make the process) more efficient,” Finance Undersecretary Bayani H. Agabin was quoted as saying in the statement.

The board is co-chaired by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and BARMM Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim.

The rules were approved at the second meeting of the IFPB. The first took place in May 2020.

The National Government is helping the newly-established government set fiscal policy. Other topics at the second meeting were digitizing tax processes.

The Bangsamoro government hopes to present a draft Revenue Code for the region to its Cabinet in May and to its Parliament by the third quarter, according to BARMM Deputy Minister Ubaida C. Pacasem, who is also the region’s finance and budget minister.

Passed in 2018, Republic Act No. 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao established the BARMM government to ease separatist tensions in the region, which have frequently broken out in violent conflict.

The law grants the region fiscal autonomy and the power to collect revenue. It needs Presidential approval, however, to accept foreign grants. — Beatrice M. Laforga