MANILA. In this July 25, 2022 file photo, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. delivers his first State of the Nation Address in Quezon City, Philippines. (AP)
MANILA. In this July 25, 2022 file photo, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. delivers his first State of the Nation Address in Quezon City, Philippines. (AP)

Passage of Maharlika Investment Fund bill before Marcos’ Sona pushed

THE administration’s economic managers are pushing for the passage of Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill before the second State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said on Tuesday, May 16, 2023.

In a statement, Diokno said they are seeking the approval of Senate Bill 2020, which aims to establish the MIF before the Senate adjourns on June 2.

“The Maharlika Investment Fund bill is making significant progress in the Senate, and we hope to see it signed into law before the President’s second State of the Nation Address on July 24,” he said.

Diokno, along with Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman and National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, attended the Senate plenary session on May 15 to show their full support during the period of interpellation and debate on the measure.

During the session, Senator Mark Villar, who sponsored the bill, said the MIF will be able to generate bigger returns for the government, setting it apart from other government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs).

He said the returns will maximize the government’s assets and generate robust returns that will be used to invest in flagship projects, including for the infrastructure development in the country, noting that big-ticket projects are usually coming from foreign loans and internal funds through the national budget.

“Ako po, galing po ako sa infrastructure dahil ako po ‘yung dating secretary of DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways], at nakita ko rin po na maraming infrastructure projects na nangangailangan ng karagdagang pondo at minsan hindi rin kaya ng GAA or General Appropriations Act ng gobyerno. Kaya kailangan natin magkaroon ng ibang fund sources,” said Villar.

(I was the former secretary of DPWH, and I also saw that there are many infrastructure projects that require additional funds and sometimes the GAA or General Appropriations Act of the government cannot fund it fully, so we need to have other fund sources.)

“Isa po itong additional source of funding na wala po tayo ngayon (This is a source of funding that we don't have now),” he added.

Among the measure’s provisions questioned during the hearings related to the MIF were the composition of the board of directors that will manage the MIF, the exemptions from certain laws, and the weak penal provisions on graft and corruption.

Senator Grace Poe sought clarification on the qualifications and standards for the nine Board of Directors, which will be further elaborated in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

The Maharlika Investment Corporation (MIC) board of director will be composed of the finance secretary as chairperson, a chief-executive-officer, the President of Landbank of the Philippines (LBP) and President of the Development bank of the Philippines (DBP), six regular members representing the contributors to the fund, with the seats distributed in proportion to their corresponding investments and five independent directors from the private sector, the academe, business sector and investment sector.

An advisory body will be created while the MIC is being set up but they will not be involved in its management or in fund control.

Marcos said the MIF is part of the government’s effort to diversify the country’s financial portfolio, noting it will attract more investors.

The funds will be sourced from the investible funds of select government financial institutions (GFIs), from contributions of the national government, declared dividends of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and other sources of funds.

The fund shall be used to invest on a strategic and commercial basis in a manner designed to promote fiscal stability for economic development and strengthen the top performing GFIs through additional investment platforms that will help attain the National Government’s priority plans. (SunStar Philippines)

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