ARMM biz group lauds wealth-sharing pact

KORONADAL CITY(MindaNews/16 July) –A major business group in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) lauded the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for reaching an agreement over wealth-sharing and revenue generation under the Bangsamoro government.

Datu Haron Bandila, ARMM Business Council chair, said the chamber welcomes the signing of the Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth-Sharing agreed last early Sunday in Kuala Lumpur by the government and the MILF peace panels.

“What is paramount to everybody in the ARMM is the achievement of peace. We welcome what they have agreed upon and we look forward to seeing that basic services be more felt by the communities,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Bandila particularly lauded the agreement on wealth-sharing, noting it was a “fair deal” with the Bangsamoro, the entity that will replace the ARMM in 2016, and the national government getting an equal share.

He was particularly referring to the scheme with respect to fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas and coal) and uranium, which provides a 50-50 sharing for the central and Bangsamoro governments.

Aside from that, Section VII (Natural Resources) of the annex provides for two other schemes in relation to government income derived from the exploration, development and utilization of all natural resources within the Bangsamoro.

With respect to non-metallic minerals (sand, gravel and quarry resources) within the Bangsamoro, such revenues shall pertain to the Bangsamoro and its local government units (LGUs), it said.

With respect to metallic minerals within the Bangsamoro, 75 percent of such revenue shall pertain to the Bangsamoro, it added.

As to the government taxes, fees and charges collected in the Bangsamoro, other than tariff and customs duties, 75 percent shall go to the Bangsamoro, including the shares of the LGUs, and 25 percent to the central government, the document showed.

However, the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) may provide that the 25 percent due to the national government will be remitted to the Bangsamoro for a limited period of time, it added.

The creation of the Bangsamoro, which will replace ARMM, was provided in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed by the government and the MILF last October.

The BBL, once passed by Congress and approved by the President, has to be ratified in a plebiscite in areas identified as belonging to the Bangsamoro territory and shall be the charter that would govern the Bangsamoro government.

Under the FAB, the Annex on Wealth-Sharing is just one of the four annexes that would complete the comprehensive peace agreement between the government and the MILF.

The others are Power-Sharing, Normalization, and Transitional Arrangements and Modalities.

Both sides have yet to agree on the annexes on Power-Sharing and Normalization. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)