Party stalwarts in House rally behind Maharlika fund
Stalwarts of several political parties in the House of Representatives have thrown their support for the bill creating the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF), which is now being discussed in the plenary.
Under the bill now being debated on the floor, the fund will be sourced from the investible funds of the state-run Land Bank of the Philippines (P50 billion), Development Bank of the Philippines (P25 billion) and the dividends and profits of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
The MIF initially aimed to raise P275 billion, with P175 billion of it supposed to be funded by the state-run Government Service Insurance System and the Social Security System which are repositories of the employees’ pension.
The authors, however, eventually dropped them as mandatory fund sources to douse public opposition.
PBA party-list Representative Margarita Ignacia Nograles said House members led by Speaker Martin Romualdez listened to the suggestions of the public on the proposed MIF by adding safeguards against corruption, fraud and other potential acts of wrongdoing.
“The most important of these are the penalty clauses or provisions. We
want to avoid possible graft and corruption and scandals, which the
public is afraid of," said Nograles, a lawyer.
"So we want the penalties to be at par with those contained in the Corporation Code,” she added.
She said another feature added to the bill is the earmarking of 20 percent of MIF profits for social projects.
“Again, this is the House leadership way of listening to the public,” Nograles said.
Romblon Lone District Representative Eleandro Jesus Madrona of the Nacionalista Party said growing an investment fund such as the MIF was necessary to fund development in the countryside.
“This will be of great benefit to us. Our only intention really is to make our country prosperous because of this investment,” Madrona said.
Quezon Repreresentative Mark Enverga of the Nationalist People's Coalition said the country needed the investment fund even if it was proving to be contentious while being discussed in Congress.
"We see the importance of this measure, particularly for the reason that it will increase national government revenues,” Enverga said.
Northern Samar Representative Paul Daza, who initially opposed the bill, has said, "It’s now a much better bill and it looks good at this point."
Daza, a deputy minority leader, is a member of the National Unity Party.
“We are all for the MIF proposal of the Speaker. The objective of maximizing or optimizing gains from the investment of excess state funds or assets is laudable," said Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales of Pampanga.
"That is what every nation would want to do,” Gonzales said.
An-Waray representative Bem Noel opposed the measure saying the Philippines had no business pursuing MIF since it did not have a surplus fund in the first place.
“The good intentions of the MIF are well noted and must be emphasized. But most of the sovereign wealth funds of other countries are built out of surplus funds of the government...these funds do not compete with social welfare and other budget items of the government. Unfortunately, at this time, that is not the case for us,” Noel said.
“We will continue to run on a budget deficit, it has to be funded by debt. Our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to debt ratio is around 40%. Allocating some of the government financial institutions’ dividends to this MIF will rob the other sectors of funding,” he added.
The consolidated Maharlika Investment Fund bill, now under House Bill 6608, has been sponsored before the House plenary on Monday afternoon by House banks and financial intermediaries chair Irwin Tieng of Manila. —NB, GMA Integrated News