The Department of Finance (DOF) called on lawmakers on Tuesday to consider the goal of attaining economic self-sufficiency and sustainable development for the Bangsamoro region when crafting the fundamental law for the autonomous political entity in Mindanao to ensure fiscal autonomy and lasting peace.
According to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, the requirements of sustained growth, such as hard infrastructure, human capital investment, new communication technologies and efficient administrative systems should also apply in the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region just like the rest of the country.
“Fiscal autonomy is earned. It should be attained with the end goal of economic self-sufficiency and sustainable development. The provisions of the proposed law must ensure that in order to win public support,” Dominguez said at the Senate hearing on the creation of a basic law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region on Tuesday.
Dominguez, who was invited as a resource person at the hearing, said any proposed funding scheme for the Bangsamoro region should be “programmatic, transparent, performance-based and phased” to conform with the criteria of modern governance and win broad public support for the Bangsamoro basic law (BBL).
“Let me begin by expressing full support for the formation of a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region through the enactment of a basic law. This will enable the achievement of a more substantial autonomy arrangement that meets the expectation of the Islamic community in Mindanao. In turn, this should be a major step toward achieving sustainable prosperity for all communities in Mindanao,” he added.
Dominguez said the country’s economic fundamentals and strong growth momentum did not happen overnight but was attained through three decades of fiscal discipline, with the economy going through difficult structural adjustment programs to work down what was once a crushing debt load.
In the case of the proposed Bangsamoro region, Dominguez said the pursuit of plans and programs “must be clear and reliable to ensure effective utilization of funds.”
One key program that should be included in the economic programs of the BBL is infrastructure development in sync with the rest of Mindanao’s overall transport plan, according to Dominguez.
“It’s very important also that the national government provides technical assistance to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region because fiscal management is not easy. And people have to practice, get experience in doing it, and we have the experienced people, and we are willing to help them in every step of the way. But again I said it should be phased, transparent, programmatic and performance-based,” he said.
He expressed confidence in the “efforts, patience, sacrifice and hard work” put in by the lawmakers and gave assurance the DOF would continue to work closely with them on the matter.
“We want to help them make it successful, and the way to make it successful is to be with them monitoring these projects. You know designing a project, implementing and monitoring it is very difficult. I’m not saying they cannot do it, but we should be willing to help them,” he added.