'May pagka-scam': IBON Foundation blasts proposed Maharlika wealth fund

Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 06 2022 07:36 PM

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MANILA — Think tank IBON Foundation on Tuesday blasted the proposed Maharlika Wealth Fund, describing it as a "scam" with several "red flags."

In an interview with ABS-CBN TeleRadyo, IBON Foundation executive director Jose Enrique "Sonny" Africa said that the fund was "questionable."

"Sorry ha, may pagka-scam talaga ang dating sa amin. At sa amin, iyong reyalidad na tinatago iyong takbo ng pondo na ito, na sinasabi nila na may transparency mechanism, layer-upon-layer of safeguards, hindi iyon totoo. Medyo mag-iisip ka: ano bang totoong balak nila sa daan-daang bilyong piso ng publiko?" he added.

He said that the timing and political conditions were not right to float the idea of the Maharlika sovereign fund, especially as inflation in the Philippines soared to a 14-year-high of 8 percent last November.

He also said that the tight restrictions on the use of money of pension funds GSIS and SSS may get exemptions through the Maharlika fund.

"Nakakatakot maisip kung anong mangyayari kung ilagay iyong control ng daan-daan bilyong piso ng pension funds na gagamitin sa hindi natin alam na paraan," he said.

GSIS earlier said that the seed money it will be giving to the Maharlika fund once it is signed into law will be derived from excess money and not from contributions of its members.

Ilocos Norte Rep. Sandro Marcos, a proponent of the fund, also earlier said that similar funds had been proposed in the past, noting bills filed by former Sen. Bam Aquino and Sen. JV Ejercito. 

But Africa clarified that Aquino's proposed bill did not move to derive seed money from SSS and GSIS funds. 

The Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, UP School of Economics Alumni Association and others said they do not support the proposed sovereign wealth fund on the principles of fiscal prudence, solvency of social pension funds and contingent liabilities.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas meanwhile said it was concerned about how its proposed participation in the Maharlika fund will impact its management of the country's gross international reserves and its supervision of banks.