NATIONAL Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said the newly established Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) must immediately address issues of poor economic performance and poverty.

“The new government must address the region’s low economic performance, high poverty incidence, and poor access and delivery of quality services,” said Mr. Pernia during the first Bangsamoro Global Economic Summit on Monday.

In January, provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) except Sulu voted to ratify Republic Act 11054, creating Bangsamoro.

Mr. Pernia said the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Sulu had the highest poverty incidence in the country.

“Apart from the power and authority granted over certain sectors and activities to create its own sources of revenue and advance the region’s economic development, the increased budgetary support to the BARMM will likely result in more economic activities and socioeconomic interventions beneficial to BARMM,” he added.

Mr. Pernia said that the national government will provide an annual block grant to BARMM, which is around P70 billion of the net national internal revenue collection for the fiscal year 2019.

A P50-billion special development fund was also allocated for the rehabilitation of conflict-affected areas.

He noted that economic stability in the region will be possible with the creation of the Bangsamoro Economic and Development Council, with a representative from the Bangsamoro region sitting as a member of the national development plan steering committee.

“This would enhance vertical integration of the BARMM plans, programs, and projects with the national priorities. On the other hand, it would insert the BARMM’s regional influence on the national development agenda,” Mr. Pernia said.

Mr. Pernia also said that intergovernmental relations mechanism bodies between the national and Bangsamoro government have to be created.

“Among these bodies are the Intergovernmental Fiscal Policy Board, which will address revenue imbalances and fluctuations in regional financial needs and revenue-raising capacity of the Bangsamoro Government; the Joint Body for the Zones of Joint Cooperation, which will be responsible for formulating policies relating to the Zones of Joint Cooperation in the Sulu Sea and Mora Gulf; the Intergovernmental Infrastructure Development Board, which will coordinate and synchronize national and Bangsamoro infrastructure development plans,” he said.

Mr. Pernia noted that the BARMM government has drafted a 12-point priority agenda for the transition period of 2020 to 2022.

Apart from the agenda is the recovery of areas affected by the Marawi siege, for which a P60.51-billion investment is required.

“We assure you that the government is committed to meeting the overall goal of the Bangon Marawi. Our aim is for Marawi City and surrounding communities to co-exist in peace and become vibrant, productive, and resilient to risks of conflict and other disasters, with culture integrated into the country’s socioeconomic development,” Mr. Pernia said. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras