United front: Marcos' econ managers say Maharlika fund essential for progress

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 09 2022 01:41 PM | Updated as of Dec 09 2022 02:08 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - The economic managers of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. led by Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Friday expressed their support for the proposed Maharlika Wealth Fund, while urging lawmakers to pass the bill. 

In a televised briefing, Diokno said the country aims to create a sovereign wealth fund modeled after the successful instruments of Indonesia and Singapore. 

"We, the Economic Managers of the Marcos Jr. Administration, strongly support the creation of the Maharlika Wealth Fund as a vehicle to move forward the Agenda for Prosperity and achieve the economic goals of the administration," Diokno said. 

The MWF will help the Philippines increase investments and funding of infrastructure projects and countryside development such as in agriculture, among others, said the statement which was signed by Diokno, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, National Economic and Development Authority Director General Arsenio Balisacan, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Gov. Felipe Medalla.

The Maharlika fund will also result in "intergenerational benefits" such as increased access of the future generation to income from investments, and reduced fiscal pressures, they said. 

"Given all these, we urge the immediate enactment of the bill creating the Maharlika Investments Corp. Let us not delay economic progress. Let us not deprive our people of this opportunity for prosperity," Diokno said.

Diokno also said they were "confident" that the future managers of the fund would usher efficient use and management of the investible public funds.

"They will be able to ensure the availability of an alternative high-return investment platform, obtain the best absolute return for the funds, find additional sources of liquidity as the need arises, and perform better risk management, given additional layers of checks and balances in the use of investible funds," he said. 

Proponents of the bill earlier revised the proposal to exclude the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS) from funding sources following public backlash.

In the absence of GSIS and SSS as funding source, Diokno said capitalization would come from the Landbank of the Philippines, and Development Bank of the Philippines "whose assets are worth trillions of pesos."

Each will initially contribute P50 billion of seed funds. The BSP, meanwhile, "shall remit 100 percent of its declared dividends" for the first 2 years after the law is enacted.

In the succeeding years, the central bank shall remit 50 percent of its dividends to the fund. 

In 2019, the BSP posted a net income of P46.1 billion, while its declared dividend was P23.05 billion. It also declared dividends of P15.89 billion in 2020 and P17.41 billion in 2021, Diokno said. 

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