DAVAO CITY—The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said that the recently signed wealth sharing agreement between the Philippine Government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will pave the way for a more inclusive development in Mindanao, especially in the proposed Bangsamoro areas. 

“The wealth sharing accord will allow the Bangsamoro to attain financial independence and enable it to steer its own growth and development,” said Maria Lourdes Lim, Regional Director of NEDA Regional Office XI and chair of the GPH technical working group (TWG) on wealth sharing. 

Lim highlighted the provisions on official development assistance (ODA), the establishment of the Intergovernmental Fiscal Policy Board, Bangsamoro Auditing Body and formulation of the Bangsamoro development plan, gender and development as among the mechanisms that will help spur investment and open up socioeconomic opportunities in the area. 

The Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing, which is an accompanying document to the main Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), provides that the Bangsamoro will have the authority to contract loans with any lending institution, except in cases requiring sovereign guarantees which the Central Government will provide. 

“Even after the signing of the FAB in October last year, there have been some interest in the area from investors. In fact, there were already international missions that visited Mindanao to explore potential investments in agriculture, housing, real estate, hotels and resorts. Through the agreements in the Annex, the Bangsamoro can engage with potential investors through public-private partnerships and ODA,” said Lim. 

The NEDA official added that the national government oversight agencies such as the DOF, DBM and the NEDA may be involved in the proposed Intergovernmental Fiscal Policy Board, which ensures the attainment of fiscal autonomy of the Bangsamoro. 

“The Annex provides that the Central Government will have a representation in the Board. While the list of membership has yet to be outlined, the oversight agencies will most likely be actively involved in it,” said Lim. 

The Intergovernmental Fiscal Policy Board, according to the Annex, will be composed of representatives from selected ministries of the Bangsamoro Government, as well as from the Central Government. It will undertake periodic review of the taxing powers, wealth sharing arrangements and revenue sources needed to implement programs and projects in the region. 

Apart from this, Lim said that the NEDA may provide technical assistance to the Bangsamoro Government in the formulation of their development plans. 

“Since the Annex provides for the Bangsamoro Government’s participation in national development planning, the NEDA may also be extending its technical expertise in the preparation of the region’s socioeconomic plans and programs,” said Lim. 

Lim said that the GPH-TWG on Wealth Sharing started drafting the technical details of the Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing provision of the FAB in July last year. Work on the Annex followed immediately after the FAB signing in October 2012. 

Members of the GPH-TWG included Department of Finance–National Tax Research Center Executive Director Teresita Rodriguez and Department of Environment and Natural Resources Assistant Secretary Anselmo Abungan, while the MILF-TWG representatives were Dr. Benjamin Domato, Atty. Raissa H. Jajurie and Prof. Alih S. Ayub. 

After the draft Annex’s completion, the TWGs elevated the document to the GPH and MILF peace panels in December 2012. Sec. Senen Bacani was the lead GPH panel member for the drafting of wealth sharing annex. 

The Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing, which is one of the four accompanying documents of the main FAB, was signed by both parties on July 13, 2013. The Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities was signed on February 27, 2013. The other two annexes that still have to be completed are on Normalization and Power Sharing.