THE DIFFERENT ministries of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) are expected to submit their respective budget proposals by Aug. 30, which will then be evaluated and consolidated by the Ministry of Finance, and Budget and Management (MFBM). “All of the offices need to submit their budget proposals by Aug. 30 so that we can begin the technical deliberation at the level of MFBM,” BARMM spokesperson Naguib G. Sinarimbo said in a news conference Tuesday. “After all the proposals are already consolidated, the chief minister will submit it to the parliament,” added Mr. Sinarimbo, also head of the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government. During the budget forum held in July in preparation for the fund planning, BARMM Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim stressed the need to “establish proper delivery of services and promote fiscal discipline and better planning in utilizing the said budget.”

Mr. Ebrahim said they are hopeful that there will be no delays and that parliament will be able to enact within the year the new regional government’s budget for 2020. In his Chief Minister’s Hour address before the Bangsamoro parliament last Aug. 22, Mr. Murad noted. “One of the structural flaws of the ARMM was its lack of fiscal autonomy. It needed to ask and defend its budget to Congress yearly. This has been addressed in the BOL (Bangsamoro Organic Law) through the block grant and other fiscal powers granted to the Bangsamoro.” MFBM Deputy Minister Ubaida C. Pacasem, in an interview with BusinessWorld, further explained: “The region’s budget will be appropriated automatically… The Bangsamoro Parliament will program where the funds will be appropriated based on the budget proposal submitted by each office.” The BARMM has a P70.6 billion allocation in the proposed P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020, which has been submitted and currently under review by Congress. The total BARMM budget consists of P63.6 billion for the annual block grant, P5 billion in special development fund, and P2 billion for the region’s share in the national taxes. — Tajallih S. Basman