Ebrahim vows to be key author of Bangsamoro Investment Code, exec says

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 13 March) — Bangsamoro Interim Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim has vowed to be the principal author of the region’s investment code in a bid to further attract investors to the area, a senior economic manager said.

Lawyer Ishak Mastura, chair of the Bangsamoro Board of Investments of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (RBOI-BARMM), said they have submitted to Ebrahim the draft Bangsamoro Investment Code, which contains the investment and incentives regulations that will be applied in the region.

“Considering the importance of this bill, the Chief Minister himself, being the principal promoter of investments in the BARMM, has signified that he will be the principal author or sponsor of the bill under the parliamentary system of the BARMM,” Mastura said in a statement.  

The creation of the Bangsamoro region is the key component of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the peace agreement signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014 after 17 years of negotiations.

Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Balawag Ebrahim delivers his message at the opening of the 2nd regular session of the interim Bangsamoro Parliament on 16 June 2020 in Cotabato City, Photo courtesy of Bangsamoro Government

Ebrahim, also chair of the MILF, has been conducting foreign investment missions to lure investors to the conflict-torn region. 

Mastura said the RBOI-BARMM is targeting the passage of the law before the end of the Duterte administration. President Rodrigo ends his six-year term on June 30, 2022. 

The draft bill for the proposed investment code will still undergo a review by the Inter-Agency Technical Working Group (TWG), headed by RBOI-BARMM and composed of the Ministry of Trade, Investment and Tourism, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform and the Ministry of Finance, Budget and Management.  The TWG will also include the Bangsamoro Attorney-General, he said.

Mastura said they will also continue consultations with the business sector. (Bong Sarmiento / MindaNews)

The draft bill, entitled “An Act Providing for the Regional Investment and Incentives Law, otherwise known as, the Bangsamoro Investment Code, Providing for the Structure and Functions of the Regional Bangsamoro Board of Investments in accordance with its Devolution from the national Board of Investments,” is seen as a key regional response and complementary policy initiative to the slew of economic reform laws enacted during the Duterte administration, such as the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, the amendment to the Public Service Act, the amendment to the Foreign Investment Act, Retail Trade Liberalization Act and the Microgrid System Law, among others.

“With the economic reforms under the Duterte administration taking shape, the BARMM has to become economically more competitive and keep up with the times,” Mohamad Pasigan, a member of the Board of Governors of the RBOI-BARMM, said.  

“The CREATE law provides a uniform fiscal incentive scheme for all Investment Promotion Agencies, including the RBOI-BARMM, but the BARMM can provide for better ease of doing business in the region thru this proposed bill by enhancing the effectiveness of the service delivery of our agency,” he added.

The BARMM is composed of the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Marawi, Lamitan and Cotabato, and 63 villages from six towns in North Cotabato.

The BARMM was created in January 2019 after the plebiscite that ratified Republic Act 11054 of the Organic Law for the BARMM. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews