Cotabato City—The Bangsamoro Transitional Authority (BTA) may consider legislating the appropriation of a buffer fund out of unused budgets over the past three years.
Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) parliament member Obaid Pacasem filed BTA Parliament Bill 41 seeking to utilize financial resources that the autonomous government has generated from unspent funds during its fledgling operations.
Pacasem, a lawyer-public accountant, also heads BARMM’s Ministry of Finance, Budget, and Management (MFBM).
Concerns are mounting on social media that BARMM’s frontline health workers who were hoping their salaries are paid on time while serving for national government programs under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (RA 11519).
BTA Bill No. 41, titled Buffer Fund Act of 2022, seeks to initially allocate P 500-million for among other purposes to ensure on-time payment of salaries and other remuneration of nationally-funded programs in BARMM.
The BTA Parliament is the highest policy making body of the BARMM.
Pacasem said appropriating a lump sum amount for a buffer fund can help address fiscal problems such as delays in releases of salaries of workers for such nationally funded programs in BARMM.
He pointed out that while the BARMM government is grateful for the continued implementation of nationally-funded programs in the autonomous region, “we cannot close our eyes (on) the systemic challenges that our fellow Bangsamoro are facing with respect to payment of their salaries.”
“Prevalent in social media are the discreet cries for help (from) our hardworking program implementers, field workers, frontliners. These are the same people who tirelessly work to bring national programs down to the community level closer and direct to the beneficiaries, the people,” Pacasem said in his sponsorship speech.
“The usual delays in payment involved not days or weeks but “several months,” he added.
The proposed fund will be a revolving account because the national government will have to replenish the amounts involved in the delayed salaries and other remunerations of such workers, Pacasem said.
Pacasem expressed confidence that the proposed bill will be able to save concerned workers from availing usurious loans, on one hand, and help the national government sustain cooperation and respect in the countryside.