HomeNewsHouse of Representatives passes bill creating US$2-billion Maharlika Fund

House of Representatives passes bill creating US$2-billion Maharlika Fund

The Senate must pass a counterpart bill for the measure to become law

The Philippines’ House of Representatives approved on third and final reading a proposed law creating the US$2-billion Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF).

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has called for a swift passage of the bill, filed by his son and a cousin, to enable the debt-laden government to earn extra funds to finance huge infrastructure projects.

The Senate must pass a counterpart bill for the measure to become law.

The version of the “Maharlika Investment Fund” passed by the House of Representatives will have two state banks initially providing a total of 75 billion pesos (US$1.3 billion).

Central bank profits, which the bill’s authors estimate at 35 billion pesos this year, will make up the balance.

The total is far smaller than an earlier version of the bill that envisioned a 275 billion-peso (US$5 billion) fund, mostly capitalized by two state-run pension funds.

The House abandoned that version in the face of public opposition.

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Business groups, opposition leaders and other critics had warned the fund could deplete worker pensions and stoke corruption through reckless investment decisions.

Marcos said in a letter to House Speaker Martin Romualdez the fund would be “a strategic mechanism for strengthening the investment activities of top performing government financial institutions, and thus pump-prime economic growth and social development.”

“The Maharlika Investment Fund could be a magnet for corruption,” said opposition Congressman Edcel in a House debate this week.

Lagman said the fund, as passed by the House, would be “the smallest in the world.”

He said much larger sovereign wealth funds in other countries were typically seeded by surplus revenues, such as windfall government profits from natural resources. – with a report from AFP

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