House to remove GSIS, SSS as contributors to proposed 'Maharlika' fund

The House of Representatives has balked at plans to tap the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS) as contributors to the supposed P275-billion Maharlika Wealth Fund (MWF).

Marikina City 2nd district Rep. Stella Quimbo (Ellson Quismorio/ MANILA BULLETIN)

This was revealed in an impromptu press conference by House Committee on Appropriations Senior Vice Chairperson and Marikina City 2nd district Rep. Stella Quimbo on Wednesday night, Dec. 7.

"This morning the House leaders led by Speaker Romualdez met with the economic managers to reassess the Maharlika fund bill as drafted by the economic managers," she said.

"Based on our assessment of the proposed changes put forward by the economic team, we are amending the bill through--change the fund sources by removing GSIS and SSS as fund contributors and instead utilize profits of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)," Quimbo said.

"The discussions on the amendments shall be taken up by the Committee on Appropriations on Friday upon the instructions of Speaker Romualdez," she added.

Quimbo said the conduct of a "series of consultations" on the proposed MWF--embodied in House Bill (HB) No.6398--resulted to the "validation" of the fears and worries of Filipinos on the measure, "especially the industrious Filipino workers who pay their GSIS and SSSr premiums monthly.

"At the end of the day, the purpose of the Maharlika fund is to become an investment vehicle where existing surplus capital of the government can grow and reap benefits," the lady solon said.

Under the original bill, the GSIS and SSS were supposed to funnel P125 billion and P50 billion, respectively, to the MWF, which would essentially act the country’s very own sovereign wealth fund.

Among the other details to be determined during the scheduled Friday hearing is whether or not the seed money under the amended measure would still reach P275 billion. Asked if the seed money would end up getting reduced since it would now be depending on BSP divideds, Quimbo said it was possible, although the reduction "wouldn't be that much".

She noted that the decision to remove GSIS and SSS as fund contributors was meant to lessen opposition to the bill.

Aside from these two government financial institutions (GFIs), the MWF was also meant to draw funds from Landbank of the Philippines (LBP) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).