Bicam agrees on automatic appropriation of Bangsamoro block grant

MANILAThe congressional bicameral conference committee has agreed on the automatic appropriation of the block grant to the envisioned Bangsamoro region.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who chairs the bicam committee, made the announcement in an interview late Monday night.

"Good news. We now have automatic appropriation of the block grant. We will keep the block grant similar to the IRA or Internal Revenue Allotment of the local government units, wherein it is automatically appropriated," Zubiri said.

Zubiri noted that the Bangsamoro parliament will craft the budget automatically appropriated to the autonomous region through a block grant, which is 5 percent of the national revenue.

He said there is no longer a provision requiring the Bangsamoro region to report its plans and programs before the central government releases its share from the national internal revenue.

"Previously, there was a reportorial requirement. You have to report the plans and programs first to this intergovernmental body, financial or fiscal body, before the release can actually be made," Zubiri said.

"Eh what if hindi nila gusto yung report, hindi nila gusto yung submission, hindi rin nila mare-release yung block grant... So hindi kami pumayag doon (What if they did not like the report, the submission? Then the block grant will not be released... We opposed that)," he added.

Zubiri said transparency and accountability measures would be in place to ensure that the funds are used efficiently and effectively.

"So release natin ang pondo (we will release the fund) with the colatilla that the parliament must pass the budget and the funds will be appropriated through the approved budget of the parliament, similar to the approved budget of local government units," Zubiri said.

"Doon na papasok yung Commission on Audit, yung submission of reports, submission of the accounting procedures required by the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) and other government agencies like the Department of Finance (That's where the Commission on Audit comes in, the submission of reports and accounting procedures required by the DBM and other government agencies like the Department of Finance)," he added.

Members of both chambers of Congress on Monday conducted a bicameral conference to reconcile the differences between their respective versions of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The bicameral conference, spearheaded by House Majority Leader Rodolfo FariAas and Zubiri, was held at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria in Quezon City. The meeting will run from Monday until Friday. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency