Saying that the “law is in the details,” Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto today pressed the government to submit “the economic fine print” that will underpin the proposed Bangsamoro government’s fiscal autonomy.
In a request coursed through Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, Recto sought “facts and figures that will bolster the financial feasibility” of the Bangsamoro self-ruled homeland.
Recto said the submission of these will clarify ambiguities in the provisions in Bangsamoro Basic Law bill, and “hasten its passage in the Senate.”
”Like any bill, if you scratch the surface of a provision of the BBL, you will find the price tag underneath,” Recto said.
Among the data Recto has requested are “national revenue collections in ARMM since its creation to the present, as well as budget utilization of ARMM, including relevant financial statements, from the time it was created.”
Included in the request are “budget allocations and subsidies lodged in different national government agencies, earmarked and off-budget revenue sources.”
“The purpose is to find out if past allocations to ARMM were at levels sufficient to meet the imperatives of growth. Kasi kung historically lacking, then we are properly informed not to commit the same mistakes with the future Bangasamoro government,” Recto said.
In his letter to Zubiri, Recto also sought additional data on the formula used in computing and allocating the proposed Annual Block Grants, “funds which are to be automatically appropriated and released by the national government.”
For 2019, the Block Grant is pegged at P72 billion. “What then is the revenue basis used in setting this amount?” Recto said.
Recto likewise requested “elaboration” on the nature of the Special Development Fund, or SDF, which has been pegged at P100 billion for 20 years, P10 billion of which shall be given by the national government the year following the ratification of the BBL.
“What is the basis for the SDF? What are examples of projects to be funded by this?” Recto said.
He also asked for the “negative list of projects or programs” which cannot be funded by the block grant or by the SDF.
Recto also requested for social and economic indicators at all levels of the present ARMM, and “programs that will result in better socio-economic numbers.”
He said that BBL proponents in the executive branch should also submit a comparative matrix between Republic Act 6734 (ARMM Organic Act), Republic Act 9054 (Amended ARMM Organic Act), and the BBL.
“A side-by-side tale of tapes, comparing past, current models, and the future one would help us create the best BBL which will encapsulate all our dreams and visions for a peaceful, progressive South,” Recto said.
The senator reiterated his support “for a constitutionally-compliant, fiscally-responsible, grassroots-accepted organic law for the autonomous region.”