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90% of House lawmakers who are co-authors approve the MIF bill

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On Thursday evening, the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill was decisively adopted by the House of Representatives, with 282 out of the 312 members of the chamber being credited as co-authors, or 90% of the bill.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. certified the passage of House Bill No. 6608 as urgent, and it was passed on final reading with 279 votes in favor, six against, and no abstentions.

The bill was approved after lengthy floor discussions, including nearly three hours of interrogation by Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay’s 1st District, which furthered the provisions’ fine-tuning, which even the measure’s detractors admitted had produced a “much better and improved version” of the legislation.

The primary architect of the legislation, Speaker Martin Romualdez, stated that adding further safeguards against potential abuse and fraud was one of the revisions made to the proposal as “our way of addressing the concerns of our people.”

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. would be assisted in maintaining the nation’s strong growth rate by the proposed national wealth fund. We want to reassure the public that the fund’s management will adhere to best practices, the rules of accountability, and openness, he said.

He gave his word that the legislation would shield the MIF from political influence in its ultimate form.

The Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corp. (PAGCOR), and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas are included as MIF contributors in the final form of the proposed bill.

They will make initial contributions of PHP50 billion to the Land Bank, PHP25 billion to the National Government, and 100% of the BSP’s dividends.

Ten percent of overall gaming revenues will go to PAGCOR.

The Social Security System and the Government Service Insurance System, which are pension plans for employees of the commercial and public sectors, respectively, have been removed from the list of donors under the Speaker’s directive in response to complaints made by their members.

The measure establishes the MIF Corp., whose board of directors will oversee the fund. The board will consist of the secretary of finance, who will serve as chair, the presidents of the Land Bank and the DBP, seven members who will be chosen by MIF contributors based on their donations, and four independent directors.

To broaden the representation of the private sector, the number of independent directors on the board was expanded from two to four. There shouldn’t be any conflicts of interest between these directors and the fund.

The corporation’s operational costs are limited to 2% of the managed funds.

The director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, the national treasurer, and the Department of Budget and Management secretary would make up the MIF Corp’s advisory board.

The group’s duties include advising and supporting the board of directors as they develop general investment and risk management strategies.

In addition to being examined by the Commission on Audit, the corporation would have both internal and external auditors.

Foreign currencies, metals, fixed-income securities, domestic and international corporate bonds, shares, real estate, infrastructure projects, loans and guarantees, joint ventures, and co-investments are all listed as “allowable investments” in the bill.

The law sets up a graduated scale of fines ranging from PHP80,000 to PHP5,000,000 as punishment for different infractions, including cooperating with internal auditors, serving as middlemen for graft and corrupt activities, and engaging in graft and corrupt acts.

Any other violations of the law or its amendments that are not otherwise expressly addressed by the law or its amendments’ penalties shall be punished by imprisonment for a term of not less than six years nor more than twenty years and by a fine of not less than PHP1 million nor more than PHP3 million nor more than twice the value of the property involved in the offense.

The National Treasurer must adopt the implementing rules and regulations under the proposed law after consulting with the founding government financial institutions.

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