2020: Bangsamoro Returns around 62% Unused Block Grant to National Government

“Only 38 percent of the amount was spent by the Bangsamoro Government and the rest sent back to the National Government last year.”

— Interior Minister Naguib G. Sinarimbo

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(SDN) — As it has been mandated, the Bangsamoro government will submit to the National Government its pre-semestral reports this month of June 2021.

This was relayed to news media members today, June 7, by lawyer Naguib G. Sinarimbo, head of the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG), one of the regional government’s line agencies. He is also the spokesman of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Bangsamoro returns 62% funds to National Government..
BARMM Interior Minister Naguib G. Sinarimbo. (Credit: PIA)

Sinarimbo emphasized the submission of the BARMM’s periodic performance and financial reports to the Manila government was normally done in the past through inter-governmental groups (IGRs) owing to the region’s Charter, the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), or Republic Act 11054.

R.A. 11054 specified that the BARMM and the National Government maintain channels through the IGRs concerning budget and finance, management, energy, infrastructure development, and another one the BARMM Parliament and Congress share where the House of Representatives and Senate are represented for coordinative charting of programs and projects, budgeting, and releases and utilization of financial resources.

MILG Minister Sinarimbo assured that the regional heads of offices will present summaries of their respective report on the utilization of the BARMM Block Grants, which the BOL had mandated.

BARMM is comprised of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, as well as the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan, and Marawi. Sixty-three villages (barangays) in North Cotabato also joined the regional autonomy that’s a parliamentary in form.

BARMM Block Grant worth some Php70 billion

Under the BOL, BARMM gets an annual share equivalent to five percent (5%) of the net national internal revenue tax collection of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the net collection of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) from the third fiscal year immediately preceding the current fiscal year. For 2020, that amount was roughly Php70 billion.

Sinarimbo said most of the annual block grant funds released in 2020 to the region from the national government were actually reverted back to the regional treasury, after most of BARMM agencies and offices were not able to disburse their funds on time.

He added that due to the restrictions of movements arising from Covid-19 health protocols, implementation of several projects were delayed which resulted to BARMM only spending about 38 percent of the amount.

Officials said special allotment release orders (SAROs) of the national government’s Modified Disbursement System (MDS) have validity periods for specific purpose of spending.

Similar to the national level, the Bangsamoro Ministry of Finance, Budget and Management (MFBM) also releases Notices of Cash Allocation (NCA), a cash authority through government-authorized banks to service MDS for government agencies like BARMM.

“Only 38 percent of the amount was spent by the Bangsamoro Government and the rest sent back to the National Government last year,” Sinarimbo clarified.

Meanwhile, the BARMM Bureau of Information Office (BIO) headed by Director Andrew Ameen Alonto said the regional leadership will  meet members of the press this week in a virtual media briefing to also share its periodic reporting with the public.

Earlier, Senator Imee R. Marcos of the Ilocos Region called on the Senate Finance Committee through a resolution to look into the Bangsamoro’s spending of its 2020 funds for the rehabilitation of conflict-affected areas (CAR). The said allocation also covered funds for the rehabilitation of Marawi City as its share in rebuilding the heavily-damaged BARMM city. (✓)

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