RETIRED technocrats have urged the future Bangsamoro Autonomous Region government to manage the region’s economy efficiently along free market lines, and noted the potential for Bangsamoro to someday mirror the economic performance of some of Asia’s most economically vibrant regions.
“There’s no reason why the BAR cannot be like Hong Kong and Shenzhen in China for so long as free market principles are combined with good governance,” the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) said in a statement Wednesday.
FEF, which counts among its members many retired economic managers, also encouraged Bangsamoro leaders to maintain a “competent, efficient and honest bureaucracy.”
“Only strong institutions accountable to the people will ensure that the mistakes of the failed Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao are not repeated,” the FEF also said.
The Bangsamoro Region will be governed by an 80-member parliament, headed by a Chief Minister. The assembly will be composed of political party (50%), district (40%) and sectoral representatives (10%).
The FEF also welcomed the efforts of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Congress as well as the Bangsamoro people in ensuring the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) as a means of ending decades-long conflict in the region.
“The BOL is a giant step toward peace and development in Mindanao,” the FEF added.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) also commended the government for the enactment of the law, granting fiscal autonomy to the region.
Under the BOL, the region will be granted a 75% share of national taxes collected in the region. The Bangsamoro will also enjoy an annual block grant, which will be equivalent to 5% of the net internal revenue tax collection of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs.
“The passage of the landmark law is a significant step toward achieving lasting peace, which will allow Mindanao to reach its full potential as a key driver of growth and development for the Philippines,” ADB Vice-President Mr. Stephen Groff said in a statement, Wednesday.
The ADB issued a $380 million loan in December to help improve the 280-kilometer national road and bridge network in Mindanao. The ADB said this was its first Mindanao-specific loan in 16 years.
The ADB’s Country Operations Business Plan for 2019 to 2021 as well as the Country Partnership Strategy for 2018 to 2023, aimed at developing several sectors in the region, are both underway.
“The government’s efforts to create stability in Mindanao will usher in more opportunities to end poverty in the region. ADB stands ready to assist the government in addressing socioeconomic inequalities in Mindanao and is preparing to roll out initiatives targeting this purpose,” ADB Country Director for the Philippines Kelly Bird said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan