DOF vows to help BARMM manage finances, budget

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /04 August) — Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has ordered the creation of a technical working group (TWG) to help the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) manage its finances and budget.

Dominguez designated Undersecretary Gil Beltran of the Department of Finance (DOF) to help BARMM craft sound policies and revenue-generating measures to ensure its long-term fiscal stability.

The TWG that will assist BARMM will include the DOF, Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) and the Commission on Audit (COA).

The DOF co-chairs with the BARMM Minister of Budget, Finance and Management the Intergovernmental Fiscal Policy Board (IFPB) which is designed to address revenue imbalances and fluctuations in the regional financial needs and revenue-raising capacity of the BARMM government.

The other IFBP members are the DBM, Department of Trade and Industry, National Economic and Development Authority and other appropriate BARMM ministries.

In a meeting last Friday, Dominguez directed Beltran to also tap the Philippine Tax Academy to help educate BARMM officials on fiscal management, financial planning and budget-related matters.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said in the meeting at the DOF office in Manila that among the challenges faced by the BARMM are the ineffective budget planning and programming system that it inherited, as well as its weak accounting and reportorial capabilities and lack of oversight and internal auditing safeguards.

“I would like you to meet with them (Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) officials) within the month. Present them the plan,” Dominguez was quoted as telling Beltran and the other DOF officials at the meeting.

Also present at the meeting were Undersecretary for legal affairs Bayani Agabin, Assistant Secretary Ma. Teresa Habitan, and representatives from COA and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In a statement, Dominguez said the ADB can be tapped to provide the technical assistance and capacity building support necessary to help the DOF and BTA in this effort.

He said the DOF can meet once every quarter with Bangsamoro officials, with the meeting held alternately in Manila and in BARMM.

During the meeting, Galvez mentioned the need to hire lawyers, accountants and technical personnel to assist BARMM government officials in transitioning to an autonomous set up.

Dominguez said the BARMM needs experienced people, such as retired government officials who are familiar with budget, revenue and customs processes.

Under Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the BARMM will receive an annual block grant that will be automatically appropriated under the General Appropriations Act.

One year after the effectivity of the BOL, the BARMM government shall receive five percent of the net national internal revenue tax collection and the net collection of the Bureau of Customs in the last three fiscal years.

The BARMM was inaugurated on March 29 this year. It is headed by interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) headed by the interim Chief Minister, is the governing body of the BARMM during the three-year transition period until June 30, 2022.(Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)