‘Maharlika bill to put economy at risk’

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  • The proposed Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF), which President Marcos Jr. wants the
    Senate to hurriedly approve before it adjourns on Friday, will put the economy at risk and
    lead to additional debts for the government, Senate minority leader Aquilino Pimentel III
    yesterday said in his twohour turnoencontra speech on the passage of Senate Bill No.
    2020.

    Pimentel reiterated his position that the measure is “unjustifiable” since the government has
    no fund surplus and insisted that the establishment of the MIF should be based on excess
    government funds, trade surplus, or other sources of revenue, like a high price of
    commodity or a natural resource.

    On the contrary, he said the proposed Philippine sovereign wealth fund (SWF) will tap
    government financial institutions for its seed money.

    “I am of (the) strong belief that the establishment of the Maharlika Investment Fun is totally
    unjustifiable. Forcing it therefore presents significant risks and concerns that cannot be
    ignored. The MIF bill have farreaching effects on our economy and the future of our
    country,” Pimentel said.

    He said “forcing ourselves” to believe that the MIF is a cushion against economic instability
    is questionable.

    “It is said that the expected return of the Maharlika Investment Fund is estimated to be at
    8.6 percent on average. I do not know the formula used in arriving at such a positively brave
    estimate, but what if the investments made by the Maharlika Investment Fund do not
    perform as expected?” he said.

    He added that the MIF is very risky since the country has a history of corruption.

    Likewise, Pimentel rejected the proponents’ argument that the concept of a SWF has
    “evolved” and that countries without budget surplus have also put up their own SWFs. He
    said that such countries “most likely got their funding from debts.”

    The Philippine government has more than P13.7 trillion debt as of end February 2023 and
    that the country has no budget surplus, Pimentel said.

    “Another point needs to be clarified: Are these amounts taken from the deposits in the
    banks or from their capital? Will the deductions of these amounts affect the Capital

    Adequacy Ratio of these banks? How about the other important ratios like the Liquidity
    Ratio and the Leverage Ratio? Were studies called sensitivity analysis made on these
    matters? I submit that this is another prejudicial question,” he asked.

    After presenting the questionable provisions of the bill, Pimentel urged his colleagues to
    carefully study the passage of the measure and set aside the urgent certification of the
    President, repeating that there is no existing public calamity or national emergency that
    merits the passage of the bill.

    He said the effects of the MIF can be felt in 10 to 20 years so it cannot “answer to an
    existing public calamity or emergency” if ever there are such incidents.

    To settle the issue, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri asked the senators to vote on
    Pimentel’s motion.

    Sixteen voted against, while only Pimentel and Senate deputy minority leader Risa
    Hontiveros voted in favor.

    As of printing time, senators are still in session discussing the Maharlika bill and was
    already at the period of amendments. The measure was expected to be approved on
    second and third reading late Tuesday night. (R. Africa, Malaya)

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