BARMM okays P85.3-B budget for 2023; education gets biggest funding

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 26 December) – Of the P85.3 billion approved budget in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) for 2023, the biggest chunk was allotted to education.

BARMM Interim Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim signed on December 22 Parliament Bill No. 54 or the 2023 Bangsamoro Expenditure Program (BEP), which is up by almost seven percent from the P79.8 billion budget for 2022.

 “The BEP 2023 is inspired by many things; our collective experiences, recent economic changes, and just recently, tragedies that struck at the very core of our homeland. These factors have been thoroughly considered in this process, and I am optimistic that the roadmap for next year is clear and responsive to the needs of the Bangsamoro,” Ebrahim said in a report released by the Bangsamoro Information Office.
Parliament Bill No. 54 was approved on third and final reading by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) on Tuesday, December 20, with 44 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and no abstention. 

The top 10 ministries and offices with the biggest budget allocations are the following:
1) Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education – P27.2 billion;
2) Ministry of Public Works – P16.4 billion;
3) Office of the Chief Minister – P5.9 billion;
4) Ministry of Health – P5.8 billion;
5) Bangsamoro Transition Authority – P3.9 billion;
6) Ministry of Social Services and Development– P3.07 billion;
7) Ministry of the Interior and Local Government – P2.04 billion;
8) Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform – P1.5 billion;
9) Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy – P666 million; and
10) Ministry of Transportation and Communications – P539 million.

The Bangsamoro government’s main source of revenue is the block grant, which is stipulated in Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the BARMM, popularly known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

The annual block grant is automatically appropriated in the national government’s General Appropriations Act and released directly to the Bangsamoro government.

The amount is equal to five percent of the net national internal revenue tax collection of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs in the third fiscal year preceding the current fiscal year.

The Bangsamoro government, which is seated in Cotabato City, is composed of at least 28 ministries and offices.

Public Works Minister and Member of Parliament Eduard Guera, BTA Committee on Finance, Budget and Management chair, said the proposed government expenditure program “underwent rigid scrutiny and deliberation.”

 “Following the approval (by the Chief Minister), we will move forward with the implementation of all projects and programs in the provinces of the region, including the Special Geographic Area (SGA),” he said.

The SGA refers to 63 villages from six North Cotabato towns that opted to ratify BOL during the plebiscite in 2019.

On the same day the expenditure law was approved, several bills were filed that will create eight municipalities in the SGA, which will constitute the covered areas into distinct and independent municipalities.

The Bangsamoro region also comprises the provinces of Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Marawi, Lamitan and Cotabato. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)