BARMM buffer fund pushed for swift pays among workers of nationally-funded programs

By Ali G. Macabalang

REGIONAL BUFFER FUND: Bangsamoro Member of Parliament cum Budget Minister Ubaida Pacasem delivers a sponsorship message on BTA Bill No. 41 on Tuesday, September 27. (Photo courtesy of Bangsamoro Information office)

COTABATO CITY – The Bangsamoro Transitional Authority (BTA) wants to take the cudgel for both the central government and concerned constituents, particularly on the issue of prevalent delays in paying salaries of workers of nationally-funded programs being implemented in the autonomous region.

More often than not, salaries and other remunerations of resident-workers of national programs in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) get delayed for weeks or even months due to hitches in state budgeting and accounting systems, according to lawyer Ubaida Pacasem.

Pacasem, a Member of Parliament (MP) and concurrent BARMM Budget and Finance minister, filed on Tuesday, BTA Bill No. 41 creating a regional buffer fund and allocating P500-million therein to ensure the timely payment of salaries and other remuneration of nationally-funded programs in BARMM.

The bill, prospected as BARMM Buffer Fund Act of 2022, is a unanimous measure of the BARMM’s “Government of the Day” to create a revolving fund to squarely resolve usual delays in compensating workers of national programs in the region, Pacasem said in a press statement released by the Bangsamoro Information Office (BIO).

Pacasem pointed out that while the BARMM governance 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,” the BIO quoted Pacasem as saying 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.

He was confident that the proposal will be able to save concerned workers from the pangs of availing usurious loans, on one hand, and help the national government sustain cooperation and respect in the countryside. 

Minister Pacasem or the BIO statement did not mention the kinds of nationally-funded programs in the Bangsamoro region. But other sources said irrigation, bridges, and national highway projects are among such national programs. (AGM)

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