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Bill for the Maharlika Fund to assist PBBM Priority Development Programs

The planned Maharlika Investment Fund, according to a lawmaker in the House of Representatives, is intended to mobilize resources to finance long-term investments like pricey infrastructure work and other important government development programs.

According to Camarines Sur Representative Luis Raymund Villafuerte, the planned public investment enterprise will help President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. fulfill his pledge during the campaign to enhance the lives of all Filipinos.

Villafuerte urged all Filipinos to support the President’s call for the public to give House Bill (HB) 6608 a chance and wait for Congress to hammer out what was referred to as the “perfect” version of this sovereign fund, given the current administration’s limited fiscal space caused primarily by the enormous spending by the previous government on Covid-19 response.

The Congress should draft a bill that is popular with the populace and contains the necessary safeguards, Villafuerte advised. “I am in favor of Malacaang’s wealth investment strategy.”

As long as the necessary precautions are in place, he claimed, there is “no harm in trying.”

At the end of the day, Congress must genuinely pass good legislation, he continued.

First off, according to Villafuerte, the significant adjustments or amendments made at the House committee level quickly addressed the initial concerns regarding certain provisions of the MIF bill, such as the use of pension funds from the Social Security System (SSS) and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), as well as the President serving as chairman of the Fund’s board.

He claimed that, contrary to the initial draft of the planned Maharlika Investment Fund Corp., the new proposal already omitted the GSIS and SSS pension funds from the MIF’s funding source and substituted the Finance Secretary for the President as chairman (MIC).

To promote engagement from the private sector, the number of independent directors on the MIC Board was also increased from the initial two to the present five.

Additionally, he noted that the initial investment would only come from investible funds of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), gaming revenues of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), and other state-run gaming operators, and dividends of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas under the House-approved version (BSP).

A sovereign investment fund can aid an economy in “deepening” its capital market and in creating “a large institutional investor, and that allows mobilization of savings within the economy for long-term investments, including infrastructure,” according to a statement made by Kelly Bird, the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Philippine country representative.

The creation of the fund is supported by 50% of Filipinos, according to a recent nationwide survey, which Speaker Martin Romualdez has applauded.

We are pleased with the survey, which, in our opinion, shows that we are on the right course in promoting the creation of this sovereign wealth fund, which is meant to help Filipinos in the future, according to Romualdez. “It demonstrates that the general public, in addition to important business groups, supports our campaign.”

Before the House of Representatives passed the MIF law on the third and final reading last Thursday, a mobile-based survey was conducted by data research company Tangere from December 8 to 10.

2,400 people participated in the poll, with 13% coming from Metro Manila, 23% from North and Central Luzon, 22% from South Luzon, 20% from Visayas, and 23% from Mindanao. Its error margin was 2.191 percent.

2,010 or 83.75 percent of the 2,400 respondents, according to Martin Peaflor, CEO and founder of the data research company Tangere, were aware of the MIF law.

Of those who knew about the bill, he said that 54.08 percent were either highly in favor of it (21.84%) or slightly in favor (32.24%), while 21.34 percent were indifferent and 24.58 percent either opposed it somewhat or strongly.

According to Peaflor, 6 out of 10 people were in favor of having the President oversee the MIF’s management, while 45.87 percent believed that government institutions should contribute to it.

According to him, 50% of those who were aware of the MIF bill either strongly believed (22.39%) or somewhat believed (27.01%) that the MIF’s formation could be protected from corruption.

According to 65.47 percent of respondents, the fund’s creation was timely, 56.67 percent thought it would aid in expanding the economy, and 57.86 percent strongly or somewhat agreed that the fund would finance government initiatives.

Penaflor noted that 73.14 percent of respondents “also think that the government should be coming up with innovative ways of revenue, rather than raising or imposing additional taxes.”

Romualdez was the primary author of HB 6608, which asked for the creation of the MIF to encourage economic development by making successful investments in important industries. Additionally, it designated at least 25% of the MIC’s net income towards social welfare initiatives.

After Marcos declared the bill’s passage urgent, it was approved on final reading with 279 votes in favor, six against, and no abstentions.

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