Mandaluyong City – The Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF), represented by Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Executive Director Ricardo L. Bobis, Jr., Acting Deputy Executive Director Ma. Pamela P. Quizon, Local Fiscal Policy Service (LFPS) OIC Director Brenda L. Miranda, Local Fiscal Data Analysis Division (LFDAD) Acting Chief Mary Ann U. Rada, and Policy, Planning, Programming, and Standards Division (PPPSD) Senior Tax Specialist Ms. Gabrielle J. Isip, participated in a productive roundtable discussion at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Headquarters in Mandaluyong City. Esteemed officials from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), including Director John Aries Macaspac and Chief Andrea Lorraine Salvador, and ADB Senior Economist Mr. Sion Morton, as well as officials from the Ministry of Finance, and Budget and Management (MFBM), collaborated with the BLGF during the event. The discussion was held on 04 and 05 May 2023 with the primary objective to address local fiscal matters, strengthen the fiscal autonomy, and enhance the public service delivery in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

During the session, the BLGF presented a detailed regional financial performance analysis from 2021 to 2022. The analysis highlighted several key points, including BARMM’s decline in the local collection by 39% among its 124 local government units (LGUs). The region contributed the least, with only Php 0.71 billion in local revenues, accounting for a mere 0.3% of the aggregate collection among all regions. The analysis also sheds light on the region’s heavy dependence on national tax allotment (NTA), which accounted for 97% (Php 40.78 billion) of the total current operating income of Php 42.16 billion.

Additionally, the discussion focused on BARMM’s performance in terms of tax collection, which averaged 57% of business tax collection over the past four years. The region’s active access to credit was also addressed, with 100% of its cities and 60% of its provinces having debt expenditures of Php 163.69 million and Php 281.83 million, respectively, in FY2022.

Furthermore, the BLGF made several recommendations to improve BARMM’s Local Government Code (LGC). These recommendations included incorporating ease of doing business initiatives, such as the renewal of business permits on the anniversary date or in January as per the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Act of 2018. The BLGF also suggested integrating barangay clearance, implementing an equitable increase in fixed amounts for local taxes, fees, and charges, introducing additional requisites for the conversion of a municipality or a cluster of barangays into a component city, and exploring financing options for taxing powers, simplification, and incentives.

The event also covered successful decentralization approaches from other countries, local finance reforms, the history of decentralization in the Philippines, and the impact of the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling implementation on BARMM.