New Maharlika 'lesser evil but still embarrassing': economist


Posted at Jun 02 2023 01:25 PM

MANILA — An economist on Friday echoed Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III's sentiment on the bill creating the country's first sovereign wealth fund.

For Pimentel, the current form of the Maharlika Investment Fund is rushed while its purpose remains vague.

Enrico Villanueva, senior lecturer of money and banking at the University of the Philippines - Los Baños, said there's still confusion over what kind of fund it is and its purpose.

"There's still confusion up to now about what it should be. The fund has been relabeled from a wealth fund, in recognition of the lack of surplus in the Philippines, to an investment fund and yet the way the declaration of policies worded is still confused, acting like a social wealth fund," he told ANC's "Rundown".

He added there were provisions in the measure that appeared to go against the law, particularly in funding sources compromising state-owned and controlled banks and even the central bank's capital adequacy.

"This is a lesser evil but still... it's embarrassing, it's impractical, it's almost scary to get a central bank with only P50 billion capital," Villanueva said.

The bill now only needs President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s signature to become law.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday adopted Senate Bill 2020 or the Senate's version of the bill.

The 19th Congress passed the measure before adjourning its First Regular Session.

The country's economic managers have insisted the MIF would greatly benefit the Philippine economy.

They have asserted the MIF would provide government with a longtime source of income and ease the burden of the national government by providing additional funding for priority projects.

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