BUDGET Secretary Florencio Abad on Tuesday announced that the proposed Bangsamoro region will receive a subsidy of P47 billion from the national government for the first six years.
Abad made the disclosure during the second hearing of House ad hoc panel on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law—the measure that will create the Bangsamoro region.
According to him, the proposed region will be allotted an annual block grant, which is 2.4 percent of the national tax collection, estimated at around P29 billion based on P1.217-trillion tax collection in 2013.
The Bangsamoro region will also receive a special development fund worth P17 billion, P7 billion initially and P2 billion for the next five years, and a P1-billion transition fund for infrastructure construction and rehabilitation.
Abad clarified that the P47 billion will be on top of the 75 percent that the proposed region will get as its share of national taxes, fees and charges collected locally.
Among those that the region can impose are capital gains tax, donor’s tax, estate tax and documentary stamp tax.
“These funds will be basically for operations expenses. Gradually, it [Bangsamoro region] will be less dependent on the national government when it is able to raise significant resources on its own thru its collected taxes, official development assistance and the business investments that are expected to come in,” Abad told lawmakers.
Former national treasurer and professor Leonor Briones underscored that there should be a sturdy mechanism for exacting accountability, “considering the huge amount of government resources that will be given to the Bangsamoro region.”
“As citizens who will pay the operations of the region for the next 10 years, we should be able to know where the money that we grant to our Muslim brothers goes,” Briones, the lead convenor of the Social Watch Philippines, said.
Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares said the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which will be replaced by the Bangsamoro Region, has contributed a paltry P1.8 billion to the country’s tax collection in 2013.
Government chief peace negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer clarified that the Bangsamoro region will be the sole beneficiary of the taxes collected within its territory.
But it cannot impose additional taxes on its residents other than what has been already provided for under the proposed law.
“The Bangsamoro or its local government can charge environmental protection fees, but they do not have the exclusive powers in imposing taxes. This function is not fully devolved [to the Bangsamoro authorities]” Ferrer pointed out.