ARMM proposes P45-B 2016 budget

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/25 July) — The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has proposed a budget of P45 billion for next year, 60 percent of which will be allotted for development projects.

In an interview Friday, ARMM executive secretary lawyer Laisa Alamia said most of these projects will focus on government infrastructure, health, and education in a bid to reduce poverty incidence in the region which is currently pegged at 98.7 percent, the lowest in the country.

At least 40 percent of the proposed budget will go to the salaries of government workers in the region’s 116 municipalities.

The 2016 proposed budget is the biggest for ARMM since 2012, when it only received P9 billion. The region got P20 billion in 2013, P29 billion in 2014, and P30 billion this year.

The region’s internal revenue allotment has to be coursed through the regional offices of the Department of Budget and Management in Region 9 (Western Mindanao), Region 10 (Northern Mindanao, and Region 12 (Soccsksargen).

Alamia said no funds had been allocated for the programs in the past coming from the region’s budget because most of it went to the salaries and maintenance and other operating expenses of all government agencies in the municipalities.

“The region is the one paying the civil servants. ARMM does not pay for the programs implemented in the area,” she said.

She explained the implementation of the government projects is not the mandate of the ARMM but of the national agencies that allocate the funds, which were often delayed.

She said this setup can be improved with the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The Bangsamoro is the political setup that will replace the ARMM once it is passed by Congress and ratified in a plebiscite.

The last time the Department of Education downloaded funding to the region for the construction of school buildings was in 2013, while it received budget from the Department of Health in 2011.

“If you see a dilapidated school building, the budget is with the DepEd national,” she said.

The proposed budget, however, will still reviewed by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), which sets the amount “to be allocated for capital outlays broken down into the various capital or infrastructure projects.”

The DBCC also looks into the “level of annual government expenditures and the ceiling of government spending for economic and social development, national defense, and government debt service”.

The committee is composed of the DBM secretary, who sits as chairman; director-general of the National Economic Development Authority, as co-chairman; and secretary of finance and governor of Central Bank of the Philippines as members. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)