By Carmelito Q. Francisco, January 17 2019; Business World


Image Credit to Philippine Star

DAVAO CITY — The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for a legalized barter trading system in western parts of Mindanao are now being finalized by the Mindanao Barter Trading Council and could be completed next month.

Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Deputy Executive Director Romeo M. Montenegro said the council, in its first technical working group meeting earlier this week, discussed the IRR’s provisions as well as the establishment of the Mindanao Barter Office (MBO).

MinDA serves as the secretariat of the council, which is led by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Other members are representatives from the departments of Finance, Agriculture, and Foreign Affairs, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)-DTI, Maritime Industry Authority, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Philippine Ports Authority.

The creation of the MBO is provided for under Executive Order 64 signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in October.

Mr. Montenegro, speaking at Wednesday’s Habi at Kape forum, said the legalized barter system will provide a “formalized structure where traders will be ordered to register” and local government units can benefit through taxes.

Small traders, he added, also stand to benefit from the system because it would cut out the “unscrupulous people” who have been controlling the informal trading.

The MBO will later be placed under the regional government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which will replace the ARMM, as provided under the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

A plebiscite for the BOL is scheduled on Jan. 21 and Feb. 6.

Article V Section 2(e) of the BOL, contained in Republic Act 11054, states: “(t)he Bangsamoro Government shall exercise its authority over the barter and countertrade without prejudice to the general supervision of the President.”

A 2012 study on the barter trading system undertaken by MinDA indicated that it contributed about P2 billion annually to the local economy.

“(The economic contribution) may be very much different (if the study) is done today,” said Mr. Montenegro.

The ports of Jolo, Siasi in Sulu, and Bongao in Tawi-Tawi have initially been identified as the barter points, but Mr. Montenegro said other possible ports could be added after the MBO is established.

A regulated barter trade is also expected to strengthen economic links with the other members of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

BIMP-EAGA has been pushing for the exemption of wooden vessels with a 500-ton cargo capacity from the prohibited list of the International Maritime Organization.

These smaller boats are the most common vessel of choice of barter traders within the regional sub-grouping. — Carmelito Q. Francisco