Carvajal: Maharlika-ed into direr poverty

Carvajal: Maharlika-ed into direr poverty

The good news is these welfare funds, SSS, GSIS, Philhealth, Pag-ibig, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa), Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) and Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), are banned from the newly passed Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill. The bad news is that everything else about the MIF is bad news.

It’s bad news that both Senate and House passed the MIF bill into law posthaste as if our legislators could hardly wait to bow to the wishes of the Maharlika’s son. Instead of consolidating, the House conveniently adopted the Senate version of the bill which now goes to the President for his signature. This is politics not finance.

Sovereign funds represent surplus funds that a rich country invests so these don’t just lie there earning nothing. But, and this is the core bad news, we are neither rich, not in any language, nor do we have funds we can honestly claim as surplus. With welfare funds off the table, where exactly will the Maharlika Investment Corp. (MIC) get its capital of P500 billion?

Some quarters want Maharlika Junior to veto the bill. But why would he veto a bill he practically authored? The only thing left for us to do is ensure that the earnings of the fund (if it earns for it can also lose or, worse still, get lost) is used for the benefit of the many and not of a few as is usual in this country.

This brings up more bad news as nothing in this country works for the common good. Everything is designed and implemented for the benefit primarily of a privileged and powerful few and only secondarily for the many.

Moreover, we are not known to be conscientious in monitoring and opposing (we mostly just complain) government action we do not approve of. Thus, the fund could easily dissipate into the stinky marshes of elitist politics while people just watch with eyes wide-shut.

There appears to be adequate built-in safeguards for the proper management of the fund. But all these might as well not be there because the President appoints all the fund managers. The MIF is not only his brainchild so he alone knows what to do with it (again it’s no surplus and no wealth fund), but he also gets to appoint all the fund managers.

How can the fund be spared from the greed of dirty politicians when it is going to be run by appointees of a President whose family has a rather spotty record (understatement of the year?) of handling government funds? Without a surplus, what will prevent the President’s men from circumventing the law and dipping their fingers into our welfare and pension funds?

Finance experts are hard put figuring out what the MIF is really for. At the moment it looks like only Maharlika Junior really knows. Thus, it is safe to assume it is going where he wants it to go.

And considering his family’s record of misappropriating people’s money, the MIF could very well end up shanghaing (maharlikaing?) and sinking us into direr poverty.


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