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PCCI: Maharlika Fund may impact Philippine financial standing

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the country’s largest business group, on Tuesday voiced its concerns on the proposed Maharlika Wealth Fund (MWF), saying it might affect the Philippines’ credit standing.

In a statement, PCCI President George Barcelon said the creation, as well as the timing of MWF, should be reconsidered.

“Pooling resources from the revenues of the national government, the Central Bank’s and government-owned financing institutions’ may impact the sustainability of the country’s welfare system and financial standing,” Barcelon said.

The PCCI chief’s statement came after 12 business associations and economic policy groups raised alarm over the MWF, saying that the country did not have a “bonanza” of commodity surpluses that need to be deployed as provided in the proposed sovereign fund.

“Our government must make sure that no action will affect our presently good credit standing which provides us lower foreign loans,” Barcelon said, noting that the need for such loans in funding big-ticket infrastructure projects was crucial.

While acknowledging that having a sovereign wealth fund could serve as a conduit to further grow the local economy, Barcelon said the timing may not be right considering the uncertainty of the financial markets due to the geopolitical situation, and recent cryptocurrency fiasco.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Felipe Medalla earlier flagged the potential impact on the dollar reserves of the MWF.

Senator Imee Marcos last week also expressed misgivings that the fund could suffer the same fate as the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) which was hounded by graft issues.

The statement comes as lawmakers in the House of Representatives filed a measure seeking to establish the wealth fund, which aims to allow the government to invest surplus reserves or revenues in real estate and financial assets.

Among the proposed measure's principal authors were House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Ferdinand Alexander “Sandro” Marcos III. — DVM, GMA Integrated News