Cotabato City (14 May 2015) – Registered firms in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have expressed fear that a diluted Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) could bring forth a weak ‘autonomy’ and undermine the investment climate in the region.
The group tackled the possible effects of the passage of the BBL to the current investments in the region in a meeting on Tuesday, 12 May, of the Promotion of Investment Sustainability Organization (PISO), a newly created advisory body composed of registered firms in the ARMM and headed by the Regional Board of Investments (RBOI).
Lawyer Ishak Mastura, RBOI Chairperson and managing head, said “if there will be changes to the BBL, it should not lessen the ARMM ‘autonomy’ but should seek to improve the investment-friendly environment of the region.”
He further said that “the only way to have stability of investment policy for private sector development in the region is to make sure that the level of autonomy currently being experienced in the ARMM is not lessened or reduced by the proposed changes to the BBL.”
Mastura urged both houses of Congress not to lose sight of the ease of doing business in the ARMM.
He said new measures that will be introduced in the region must encourage more private sector development and not unduly burden them.
Investors in the ARMM currently enjoy the convenience of getting their permits, licenses, approvals, administrative consents and their regulatory framework directly from the Autonomous Regional Government without the need to go national agencies in Manila or to their regional administrative offices.
The ARMM has recorded a steady influx of multi-billion investments since 2013. The RBOI registered P1.46 billion worth of investments in 2013 and the number doubled the following year with P3.86 billion total investments.
In the first quarter of 2015, RBOI registered P863 million. The agency is expecting to sustain or even exceed last year’s investments.
Mastura said the increasing trend in investments in ARMM is largely attributed to the favorable outcome of the peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the continuing governance reform of the region under the present administration. (Bureau of Public Information)