Finance chief seeks ‘total clarity’ in Bangsamoro fiscal policy

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Carlos Dominguez

Department of Finance (DoF) Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said that the legislators should be clear in crafting the provisions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to avoid problems in the future.

During the hearing of the joint House committees on local government, muslim affairs, and peace, reconciliation, and unity on Wednesday, Feb. 28, the panel continued threshing out the financing mechanisms of the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR).

Mr. Dominguez told the panel that it is “incumbent upon the members of the congress to make it very clear, the division of responsibility, the division of control, the division of the revenues, so that in the future, we won’t end up in court every day.”

“One of the most important things in putting up the law is total clarity as who has what right and especially who has the right to retain national funds, nationally enacted taxes,” Mr. Dominguez added.

The Bureau of Budget and Management (DBM) echoed the same sentiment, saying that it is “material” to determine if the BAR will be treated as a national or as a local government unit.

“If it [Bangsamoro region] going to be treated as a national agency, then definitely, it will have annual budget and it has to be reverted, consistent with all the rest of national government agencies. But if it will be treated as a local government unit, it is effectively one unit lower than the national government… once the funds are transferred or downloaded to the LGUs, it loses that character of having to be reverted at the end of the year and it continues,” DBM Undersecretary Tina Rose Marie L. Canda said.

The chief financier said that if the investment comes from the national government, it would have the right to retain the funds, and the same goes for local government.

“I don’t have any objection to retaining local funds in the political entities there that are their right to control,” Mr. Dominguez said.  — Minde Nyl R. Dela Cruz