Featured image above shows BARMM Chief Minister Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim (left) submitting the proposed budget of over Php98 billion for 2024 to Bangsamoro Parliament Speaker Pangalian Ali Balindong. (Credit: Parliament)
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COTABATO CITY — BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Al-Haj Murad” Ebrahim has officially submitted the proposed budget for the region’s 2024 fiscal year, totaling Php98.46 billion, with education, infrastructure, and health as the top three priorities.
Ebrahim personally handed over the proposed 2024 Bangsamoro Expenditure Program (BEP) to Bangsamoro Parliament Speaker Pangalian Ali Balindong during a symbolic ceremony on October 24.
“After centuries of struggle for self-determination, the Bangsamoro is now recognized as an autonomous entity cultivating the seeds of Jihad (holy struggle) that were once planted into our hearts,” said Ebrahim, highlighting the historical significance of the budget proposal.
Minister of Finance, Budget, and Management Ubaida Pacasem explained that the proposed budget for 2024 includes the following components: Php70.5 billion from the Annual Block Grant (ABG) as provided in the 2024 National Expenditure Program; Php5.08 billion from shares in national taxes collected within the BARMM as provided in the NEP; Php5 billion for the Special Development Fund; Php471 million from the projected regional taxes; and Php17.3 billion from the declared savings from prior years.
He said these funds will be used to support various programs, projects, and activities designed to uplift the lives of the Bangsamoro people.
Education takes the lead
Education emerged as the top priority, securing the largest share of the proposed budget with an allocation of Php30.2 billion.
The allocation reflects the region’s commitment to enhancing the educational landscape in BARMM, aiming to provide better opportunities for its residents.
Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal highlighted the role played by education as the foundation of inclusive growth, sustainable development, and innovation.
The allocation will be used by the Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education (MBHTE) to fund various education programs, scholarships, and the development of schools and learning centers, ensuring that quality education is accessible to all.
The MBHTE proposed continuing its programs such as the Access to Higher and Modern Education (AHME) Scholarship Program, TVET Scholarship Program, Bangsamoro Education Program, Madaris Standards and Provision Program, Responsive Education System Promoting Effectiveness Competency Teaching Program, Madaris Asatidz Program, Bangsamoro School Sports Program, and Inclusive Education Program.
The ministry also proposed Php754 million for the construction of schools, classrooms, and libraries, as well as the provision of furniture and fixtures for teachers.
Investing in infrastructure
Following closely is infrastructure, receiving a substantial budget of Php17.6 billion from the Ministry of Public Works (MPW).
The investment signals BARMM’s dedication to developing its physical infrastructure to strengthen economic growth, connectivity, and a better quality of life for the Bangsamoro people.
Public Works Minister Arch. Eduard Guerra said that they intend to expedite the construction and maintenance of essential infrastructure facilities, such as flood management, bridges, and water systems.
The funds will be used for infrastructure planning, design, and construction, as well as the building, restoration, and maintenance of infrastructure facilities throughout the region.
Improving healthcare services
Health is the third priority, with a proposed budget of Php6.6 billion for the Ministry of Health (MOH).
The regional government aims to strengthen healthcare services, improve medical facilities, and enhance public health programs to ensure the well-being of its citizens.
The budget will support public health services, revitalize health facilities, and enhance the overall health system, addressing the lack of supplies and equipment.
The MOH also intends to strengthen rural health units and barangay health units.
Promoting social services
The Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD) proposed Php3.7 billion to reduce poverty and promote social cohesion, providing financial assistance to those in need.
The budget, according to MSSD Minister Raissa Jajurie will fund initiatives that provide financial help to qualifying groups and individuals facing financial challenges.
The top 10 ministries and offices in BARMM with the most substantial budget proposals for 2024 are as follows:
1. Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education (MBHTE): Php30,231,210,027
2. Ministry of Public Works (MPW): Php17,614,054,140
3. Ministry of Health (MOH): Php6,657,091,430
4. Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD): Php3,702,389,285
5. Office of the Chief Minister (OCM): Php3,483,118,344
6. Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA): Php3,112,866,028
7. Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG): Php2,279,893,235
8. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR): Php1,882,041,274
9. Ministry of Human Settlements and Development (MHSD): Php1,132,845,944
10. Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy (MENRE): Php834,206,301
Ebrahim said that the budget proposal for 2024 signifies the BARMM government’s commitment to address the region’s needs, increase economic growth, and improve the overall quality of life for the Bangsamoro people.
The Committee on Finance, Budget, and Management has scheduled a series of budget deliberations for various ministries, agencies, and offices in November.
The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) the interim government of the Bangsamoro region, has roughly two years before the election of the regular Parliament in 2025. (LTAIS-Public Information, Publication, and Media Relations Division) — (✓)