Maharlika fund

Lagman: Maharlika fund corporation should be led by veteran from private sector

Rappler.com
Lagman: Maharlika fund corporation should be led by veteran from private sector

ALBAY LAWMAKER. Rep. Edcel Lagman during the 2023 budget briefing of the Department of Agriculture at the House of Representatives, on September 5, 2022.

Rappler.com

'If ever the Maharlika Sovereign Wealth Fund is created, its corporate management must be independent from partisan control and interference,' says Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman

MANILA, Philippines – If the Maharlika Wealth Fund is created, its corporate management must be led by an “experienced economic manager” from the private sector, Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman said on Saturday, December 10.

Lagman made the suggestion after authors of the Philippine sovereign wealth fund bill agreed to let the finance secretary chair the proposed governing corporation of the fund – the Maharlika Wealth Fund Corporation – instead of the president.

“If ever the Maharlika Sovereign Wealth Fund is created, its corporate management must be independent from partisan control and interference,” he said in a statement on Saturday, December 10.

“The chair of the Maharlika Investment Corporation must be a truly qualified and experienced economic manager from the private sector,” the lawmaker added.

Lagman shared the view of critics of House Bill No. 6398 in relation to the people proposed to manage the controversial fund.

“From the President to his alter ego, the finance secretary, to chair the Maharlika Investment Corporation – what is the difference? The finance secretary serves at the pleasure of the President and must conform to the President’s bidding to retain his position,” he said.

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HB 6398, filed by six lawmakers led by Speaker Martin Romualdez and Senior Deputy Majority Leader Sandro Marcos on November 28, has gone through several amendments following strong criticism of from various sectors, including major business groups such as the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Industry and the Makati Business Club.

Criticisms range from the observed “railroading” of the measure at the House of Representatives, to questions on the timing of the proposal, considering unstable market conditions, among other factors.

The fund was supposed to be drawn from government pension funds and banks, but proponents of the bull agreed to tap Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas profits instead, after concerned groups and economists sounded the alarm over possibly endangering the welfare of pensioners.

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Public interest groups have also slammed the proposed P275-billion Maharlika fund over the lack of safeguards and its susceptibility to corruption. Many recalled the 1MDB corruption scandal in Malaysia that has put former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak behind bars. (READ: ‘Papayagan ba natin ulit?’ Concerned groups sound alarm over Maharlika bill)

Amid all the criticism about the proposal, the country’s economic managers – Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, and BSP Governor Felipe Medalla – issued a joint statement in support of the Maharlika fund.

They believed that the proposed fund would lead to economic growth and help achieve economic transformation towards inclusivity and sustainability.

“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,” they said. – Rappler.com

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