Maharlika fund

Marcos says Maharlika fund operational by end-2023 

Bea Cupin

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Marcos says Maharlika fund operational by end-2023 

BONGBONG MARCOS. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. delivers his second State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives on July 24, 2023.

Lisa Marie David/Reuters

The President says the order to suspend the implementation of the law was done in consultation with his economic managers and ‘personalities who will actually be involved in the fund’

MANILA, Philippines – A day after Malacañang publicized his order to suspend the implementation of his administration’s sovereign fund, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. defended its “concept” as a “good one” and said it will be “operational” before the year’s end. 

“I was a bit alarmed by the news reports early this morning that I read in the newspapers that we have put the Maharlika Fund on hold. Quite the contrary. The organization of the Maharlika Fund proceeds a pace. And what I have done though is that we have found more improvements that we can make specifically to the organizational structure of the Maharlika Fund,” Marcos said in a speech before leaving for Saudi Arabia for the ASEAN-Gulf Cooperation Council Summit on Thursday, October 19

The Maharlika Fund is a controversial sovereign wealth or investment fund that was created – critics say hastily – by the Marcos administration and its allied Congress, in the first half of 2023. The idea is to pool money for investment in domestic and foreign corporate bonds, commercial real estate, and infrastructure projects, among others. 

Aside from the rushed passage of the law, critics have also raised red flags over safeguards in the wealth fund, as well as its timing – with prices rising and the non-existence of a government budget surplus.

In ordering the Maharlika Fund law suspension through a memorandum issued by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin on October 12, Marcos said he “wanted to study carefully the IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations) to ensure that the purpose of the fund will be realized for the country’s development with safeguards in place for transparency and accountability.”

“The concept of the Maharlika Fund as a sovereign fund or an investment fund – the concept remains a good one and we will – we are still committed to having it operational before the end of the year. So we should not misinterpret what we have done as somehow a judgment on the rightness or wrongness of the Maharlika Fund,” said Marcos on Thursday.

The President said that in pausing the law’s implementation, the government was “just finding ways to make it as close to perfect and ideal as possible.” He said the pause was ordered in consultation with his economic managers and “the personalities who will actually be involved in the fund.” He did not name these personalities.

Government officials earlier said Marcos would be pitching the Maharlika Fund in Saudi, where he is expected to hold meetings with counterparts from the Middle East, as well as business leaders from the region. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.