Maharlika fund 'trial balloon' to eventually 'lose air'--Hontiveros

Minority member Senator Risa Hontiveros has likened the proposed P275-billion Maharlika Wealth Fund (MWF) as a "trial balloon" that will eventually "lose its air".

Senator Risa Hontiveros (Facebook)

"It is only a matter of time before this trial balloon completely loses air, because, as this retraction shows, we don't need and can't afford a sovereign wealth fund," Hontiveros said in a statement Thursday, Dec. 8.

The retraction that Hontiveros was referring to was the announcement of the House of Representatives leadership Wednesday night that it would amend House Bill (HB) No.6398 or the proposed MWF so that the state would no longer draw money from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Social Security System (SSS).

"Salamat at kahit paano ay nahimasmasan ang proponents nitong Maharlika fund (Thankfully, the proponents of this Maharlika fund have been able to think things through). Again, as with any proposal, this requires deliberation and consensus between and among members of both Congress (House and Senate)," the lady senator said.

The perception is that the House is pushing aggressively to pass the measure, which is essentially a seed fund for investments of the government.

However, the planned use of GSIS and SSS funds for this seed money has been very contentious.

Under the proposed amendments to HB No.6398, the seed money will supposedly come from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Land Bank of the Philippines, and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

"Now, they really would have to examine if there are excess funds at Land Bank, DBP and BSP, that they have been brandishing as 'enough'," Hontiveros said.

"The DOF (Department of Finance) Secretary even said he wants the peso defended by releasing massive BSP foreign reserves when there is an attack on the peso.

"Kung kailan naman nakikinig ang sambayanan, saka naman tingi-tingi ang paghahain ng mga probisyon ng Maharlika fund bill. Huwag sanang sayangin ang panahon at tiwala ng mga Pilipino (The whole country is now listening, and yet they're stingy in revealing the provisions of the Maharlika fund bill. They shouldn't waste the trust and time of Filipinos)," she further said.