ARMM Economic Development Roadmap To Include Federalism Study

  Jul 25, 2016    

The Chairman and Managing Head of the Regional Board of Investments of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (RBOI-ARMM), lawyer Ishak Mastura, called for the conduct of a study on how Federalism can improve the policy environment for business and economic development using the ARMM experience of autonomy as baseline, reference point and case study. To begin with, he proposed a forum on Federalism entitled “Forum on Business Experience of Autonomy vis-à- vis Federalism: The Case of the ARMM” to launch the ARMM initiative on Federalism as part of the 100 days of newly re-elected ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv S. Hataman.

Mastura discussed the Federalism study and forum during a meeting with regional economic development agencies held at the office of the ARMM Department of Trade and Industry to craft an Economic Development Roadmap for the ARMM.

Mastura pointed out that no less than the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in its study in 2003 stated that “the ARMM can sell itself as a good laboratory case for a possible shift towards federalism should efforts to change the Constitution push through. Hence, initiatives towards strengthening ARMM political institutions, political feedback process, bureaucracy and systems of governance, etc. need to be done. This provides a worthy experiment on which approaches would work and which wouldn’t. By the time federalism is adopted, the country would be reasonably prepared to make it work, as it would have the ARMM model to look up to.” (See “Assessment of the Business and Investment Climate in the ARMM and Strategies to Address the Problem”, USAID, December 2003).

The ARMM experience of autonomy has been beneficial for business after the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2012 and 2013, respectively. A total of Php 13.7 billion in investments has been registered with the RBOI since 2012 to date. With peace and stability on the ground, investors cite the ease of doing business in the ARMM as a complementary reason why they have decided to invest in the ARMM. The reason for the ease of doing business in the ARMM is that permits and approvals from government agencies don’t have to be referred to Manila and instead with the devolved autonomous powers given to the ARMM agencies, they are the ones who approve such permits and provide other authorities to investors, thereby reducing processing time and cutting down bureaucratic ‘red-tape’.

For his part, Regional Governor Hataman believes that the governance reforms in the ARMM bureaucracy that he has initiated and continues to implement since 2012 has contributed to the efficiency and effectiveness of its service delivery. (SOURCE: RBOI)