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Diokno not in favor of GOCCs’ dividends as Maharlika Fund source

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno expressed opposition on Friday to the proposal to make the dividends from government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) the initial funding source of the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF).

"Meron lang akong objection (I just have an objection). There’s a proposal to tap dividends from [state] corporations, but this would require changing their charters. Mas madugo ‘yon eh, diba? (That's more tedious, right?)" Diokno told reporters on the sidelines of a forum organized by the Makati Business Club.

The finance chief was referring to the latest version of the House of Representatives-approved MIF bill.

Last month, Albay Representative Joey Salceda, who chairs the chamber’s ways and means panel, disclosed that the MIF bill underwent revision during the Christmas break.

In particular, dividends from GOCCs will initially support the MIF, removing dividends from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and state-run banks from the pool of fund sources.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has clarified that he had no hand in the revision of the MIF bill.

"We have already identified steady and sizable sources for the Maharlika Fund," Diokno said.

"[BSP] Gov. [Felipe] Medalla was willing, right? He’s willing to give up 100% for two years. To me that is easily P100 billion," he added.

"Tapos meron pa tayong proceeds from privatization (We also have proceeds from privatization efforts). That’s easily another P100 billion… so we don’t have to amend the charters of existing corporations to be able to fund the Maharlika Fund."

The House version of the MIF bill provides that this would be funded by the investible resources of the Landbank of the Philippines (P50 billion), the Development Bank of the Philippines (P25 billion), and the dividends/profits of the BSP.

MIF authors originally planned for the investible funds of the Government Service Insurance System and the Social Security System to be included as sources for the proposed sovereign wealth fund's capital as well, an idea they later dropped, said co-author Marikina City Representative Stella Quimbo, after pensioners expressed their concerns. —VBL, GMA Integrated News