Pimentel: Economic managers didn’t do fundamental research on MIF

Published January 21, 2023, 4:51 PM

by Mario Casayuran

The Senate minority bloc said Saturday, Jan. 21 that it’s now obvious that the economic managers and administration allies in House of Representatives failed to do the necessary foundational research and hard work needed to come up with the conceptual framework of the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF).

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III said the brainstorming on a very controversial proposal like a sovereign wealth fund should have been done before the announcement of the plan to the public.

He said the MIF was not mentioned in President Marcos’ State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July and has not been in the list of Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) priorities.

‘’Hence the question is: where is this coming from? Who thought about this? Capitalists who have diminished incomes because of the slowdown in the world economy?,’ he asked.

The lower house version of the MIF has deleted a proposal that investment funds for the MIF would come from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP or central bank).

President Marcos introduced the MIF during the Philippines’ Country Strategy Dialogue at WEF on Tuesday, saying the process of establishing the country’s first sovereign wealth fund is underway.

News reports from Davos, Switzerland quoted House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez as saying the keen interest shown by global leaders in the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) during the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland bolstered the wisdom of fast-tracking the passage of the proposed measure creating the sovereign wealth fund at the House of Representatives.

“The swift passage of House Bill (HB) No. 6608, creating the Maharlika Investment Fund, enabled the President and the Philippine delegation to take advantage of the enormous opportunity to showcase the positive developments in our country and creative strategies to gain growth momentum,” Romualdez said in a statement.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said he favors a free wheeling discussion with the administration’s economic managers on the highly technical issues surrounding the MIF.

‘’They have to sell it to the Senate,’’ he told DWIZ radio Saturday.

He said he expects Senator Mark Villar, chairman of the Senate banks committee, to calendar a committee hearing on his version of the MIF bill.

Zubiri said the Villar bill is similar to the House measure.

‘’We will look at the proposals if they are sound. ’The ball is now in the court of the banks committee,’’ he said.

The hearing may begin late this month or early February because Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno and Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman have to attend to an investors’ forum this coming week.

Zubiri said he expects the MIF bill to be passed by the Senate after the Holy Week.