Once again, Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda felt compelled to respond to a known personality's comment on the proposed P275-billion Maharlika Wealth Fund or MWF.
The latest personality happens to be former Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who reportedly opined that the process involved in the MWF could be "unconstitutional".
"I understand that Justice Tony Carpio's observation is an initial one. It must have been on the initial bill, and not yet on the TWG (technical working group) report, which the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries will approve next week," said Salceda on Sunday, Dec. 4.
The economist-congressman headed the TWG on the controversial House Bill (HB) No.6398 or the proposed MWF.
Essentially a Philippine sovereign wealth fund, the MWF will tap government financial institutions (GFIs) including the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS) for seed money to that would be used by the State for investments.
Carpio was quoted by Salceda Sunday as saying that "The SSS and GSIS funds are personal contributions of their respective members who own the funds...thus, the income of SSS and GSIS investible funds must benefit only their respective members."
"The income of the Maharlika is for the benefit of all Filipinos, including non-SSS and non-GSIS members. The law cannot give the income from SSS and GSIS funds to non-members who did not contribute to the funds.
"This is taking of private property for a public purpose without just compensation, which is unconstitutional," read Carpio's statement, as shared by Salceda to House reporters.
To this, the Bicolano said: "GSIS and SSS's contribution to the SWF is like any other minority position in any company. They are entitled to a share of the profits corresponding their equity in the company."
"I made sure that such a provision regarding the distributions of profits as well as equity attribution is present in the draft substitute bill," he said, referring to his work in the TWG.
"So, the income of the wealth fund in proportion to the GSIS and SSS equity redound to the GSIS and the SSS. The purpose of the SWF is public, but the distribution of profits will operate like any other GSIS or SSS investment," explained Salceda.
"Pensioners ultimately get the profits due them, and no reduction to such profits is made just because the SWF has a public purpose," he added.
To raise the P275-billion initial investment fund, P125 billion will be provided by the GSIS, P50 billion by both SSS and Landbank of the Philippines (LBP), P25 billion by the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), and P25 billion by the National Treasurer.
The purpose of the MWF is to act as seed money for investments here and/or abroad. The profit that it makes from these investments would be used to fund big ticket projects geared toward national development. Salceda had identified such projects as “critical infrastructure” like dams and energy projects.
“The President’s expressed aspiration is for the to contribute to nation-building. The fund will pool resources towards that direction, since many of these projects are capital-intensive,” he said last Thursday, the same day that the banks and financial intermediaries panel approved HB No.6398.