Business community still waiting for more details on Maharlika fund: PCCI chief

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 06 2022 05:12 PM


MANILA — The head of the Philippines’ largest business group said businessmen are not worried about the Maharlika Wealth Fund but they are waiting for more details on the proposal of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s relatives in Congress. 

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president George Barcelon said on Tuesday the Maharlika fund “has to be vetted with the different views from the private sector and the government.”

Under a congressional proposal penned by several relatives of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, a total of P175 billion pesos from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System would be used to fuel the Maharlika fund

Barcelon said it was “natural” for these pension funds to make investments “so this is nothing new to them.” 

He added that he believes the government will make sure that the money from the pension funds “is kept intact.” 

“When the government officials see fit to implement this, they will definitely make sure that there is transparency in the whole sovereign wealth fund…kasi ‘yung pension fund pera ng taong bayan (because the pension fund is the people’s money),” Barcelon told reporters in a chance interview on the sidelines of the Telco Summit 2022.

He said businessmen are expecting more specifics on how the Maharlika fund will be financed, how the money will be invested, and how the country will benefit from it. 

“I’m sure that will be seriously looked into. I’m sure the whole economic team would be involved in such a big investment portfolio,” he said.

When asked who should manage the sovereign fund, Barcelon said: “Our President BBM [Bongbong Marcos] is very open to the support and participation of the private sector so I would like to think that our banking sector has been quite stable and they are also involved in wealth and private investments. Maybe that would be an offshoot of this effort to get this afloat.”

“The transparency I’m sure will be put in place,” he said.

In an earlier statement, the PCCI recommended that the creation of the Maharlika fund be reconsidered “both in amount and timing.” 

“Pooling resources from the revenues of the national government, the Central Bank’s and government-owned financing institutions’ may impact on the sustainability of the country’s welfare system and financial standing,” a statement from the PCCI read.

“Our government must make sure that no action will affect our presently good credit standing which provide us lower foreign loans,” it read.

“The timing may not be right considering the uncertainty of the financial market due to the geopolitical situation, and recent cryptocurrency fiasco." 

Malacañang has yet to issue a statement on whether or not President Marcos is in favor of creating the fund, which has been flagged by various financial institutions. 

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on Monday also said it was concerned over the effect of the Maharlika fund on the country's gross international reserves, as well as the central bank's supervision of banks and other financial institutions.

Among the authors of the bill are the President’s cousin and House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez; his son Ilocos Norte Rep. Sandro Marcos; and his cousin-in-law Tingon Party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez.

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