Lawmaker denies Maharlika Investment Fund bill railroaded


Posted at Dec 16 2022 02:45 PM | Updated as of Dec 16 2022 03:03 PM

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MANILA — A lawmaker who voted for the passage of the controversial Maharlika Investment Fund denied on Friday that the bill was railroaded in the House of Representatives. 

PBA party-list Rep. Margarita Ignacia Nograles said the proposal went through several amendments, while various agencies were consulted during the deliberations. 

"I don’t think this is railroaded... Even with the minority, they have, and we’re very thankful that they have also actively participated in introducing amendments to make sure this bill is really crafted well," Nograles told ANC's Rundown.

She said that while she hoped senators would swiftly pass a counterpart bill for the measure to become a law, “They are their own body, that they have to go through the process that they will do in the Senate.”

“And hopefully, with this final version that we passed yesterday, the Senate can adopt this, and—because we have gone through the exhaustive means to create this final version, hopefully it’s going to be easier for the Senate to pass this,” she said. 

Meanwhile, House Senior Deputy Minority Leader Paul Daza, who previously opposed the Maharlika Wealth Fund, is now confident that the proposal has enough safeguards. 

He noted that in the initial version of the bill, the President would appoint 2 directors to oversee the fund. 

Following revisions, there will be 5 directors who will instead be appointed by a board of advisers comprised of budget secretary and socioeconomic planning secretaries and the presidents of the Bankers Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Stock Exchange, said the lawmaker. 

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has called for a swift passage of the bill to enable the debt-laden government to earn extra funds to finance huge infrastructure projects.

The version of the Maharlika fund passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday will have 2 state banks initially providing a total of 75 billion. 

Central bank profits, which the bill's authors estimate at P35 billion this year, will make up the balance.

The total is far smaller than an earlier version of the bill that envisioned a P275-billion fund, mostly capitalized by 2 state-run pension funds.

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

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".

— With a report from Agence France-Presse