Photo courtesy of OPAPP

BTA agrees to harness revenue collection to strengthen fiscal autonomy

Cotabato City – The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) interim government should develop the capacity to raise its revenue collections, and consequently, strengthen its fiscal autonomy so that it will not become too dependent on the annual Block Grant coming from the national government, OPAPP site said in its report Monday. 

During the second batch of learning sessions on the Internal Revenue Code for BARMM officials and personnel held at the University of the Philippines on Monday, members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) reached a consensus to improve revenue collection in the BARMM.

BTA member Engr. Baintan Ampatuan said during the learning sessions that, “We envision that we will not be dependent on the block grant anymore — that’s our long-term goal as Bangsamoro government. We hope that through our [increased] revenue generating capacity, we can fund our own programs and projects, and hopefully, sustain our local initiatives using our local collection measures,” pointed out 

The Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) passed by Congress in August 2018, which created the BARMM, mandates the national government to provide an annual Block Grant to the Bangsamoro Government in order to efficiently perform its administrative and legislative powers and functions.

However, the Block Grant and other national government subsidies given in lump sum to the BARMM may not be spent without an appropriations law defining the specific purposes for which they are intended.

BTA member Datu Mussolini Sinsuat Lidasan stressed the need to craft a taxation law that is simple enough so that it could be easily understood and followed by the people.

“We need to generate more revenue within the region so that we can really finance all our programs and projects. I hope that we can have a taxation law that even an ordinary Bangsamoro [resident can] understand and follow,” Lidasan said.

 “Not all Members of the Parliament have a background on law or even in taxation. So, this is an eye-opener and a good orientation for us to set all of us on the same page,” Lidasan added.

 “The main challenge here is from the ideal to the actual, how do you operationalize it based on context, based on the current realities on the ground? Second is how can we enact or pass a law on taxation given the very limited time that we have,” Lidasan noted.

“We might be stuck from the limitations being imposed by the national government. Also, we need to [study] our relations with the local government units (LGUs) — which one is applicable for the LGUs, and which is for the regional government,” Ampatuan said. 

OPAPP Asst. Secretary David Diciano in his opening remarks that, “It is vital for the BARMM government to intensify its revenue collection to improve access to and elevate the quality of the delivery of public services such as education, infrastructure, health, and livelihood,” Diciano said.

“Let us be guided by core values and principles crucial to assist us during this vulnerable transition in the Bangsamoro,” he added. (Source: OPAPP Site)