Maharlika P500 billion capital funding bigger than BSP's: prof

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 08 2023 11:28 AM

MANILA — President Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr should veto the pending Maharlika Investment Fund bill due to lack of safeguards, ambiguous purpose and still questionable funding sources, an economics professor said on Thursday.

The purpose of the MIF, which is currently being finalized for Marcos' approval, remains unclear, UP school of economics professor JC Punongbayan said in a TeleRadyo interview.

Faculty members of the UPSE on Tuesday published a paper titled "Maharlika Investment Fund: Still Beyond Repair" detailing concerns on the sovereign wealth fund and calling on the president “to seriously reconsider” signing it.

"Ang napasa ng Kongreso na bill ay hindi malinaw kung ano ba ang layunin nito at hindi naipaliwanag nang mabuti. Important kasi halimbawa ang tipo ng investment na paglalagakan ng pera ay nakabase sa objective ng Maharlika," Punongbayan said.

(What was passed by the Congress is unclear. The purpose has not been explained well. This is important since the type of investments will depend on the MIF's objective)

"Ang panawagan sana ay i-veto muna ni Pangulong Marcos itong bill na ito at hayaan na i-discuss pa at mabusisi ng taong bayan," he said.

(We urge the president to veto the bill first so that it can be scrutinized further by the people)

He said the governance structure also has red flags since the board would be composed of presidential appointees.

Maharlika is also unlikely to generate big returns given the looming global economic slowdown, he added.

Punongbayan also said the authorized capital funding of the MIF at P500 billion is bigger than that of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The seed fund coming from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas was also questionable since the central bank is still struggling to meet its mandated P200 billion capitalization, he said. 

Under the MIF, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas will give 100 percent of its dividends to the MIC for the first two years of operations. 

"Yung mismong Bangko Sentral ay nahihirapan na lumikom ng pera para mapunan ang kanilang P200 billion na kapital at kailangan nila ang pera na iyon para sa kanilang functions...Kailangan nila ng pera pero mapupunta dito sa Maharlika," he said.

(Even the BSP is struggling to raise money to hit their P200 billion capitlization. They need the money for their functions. They need the funds but their dividends will go to the Maharlika)

The paper also pointed out insufficient safeguards for the bill, especially in cases of bankruptcy, Punongbayan said.

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Wednesday reacted to the paper published by his colleagues from the UPSE , saying its seem like there is "so much distrust" on the bill.

Proponents have argued that the purpose of the MIF was very clear and that safeguards were in place to protect the fund.

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