Premature to present Maharlika wealth fund at WEF, says Hontiveros

Senator Risa Hontiveros said on Monday, January 16 that it is going to be a premature move for the Marcos administration to “present” the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund at the upcoming World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

Hontiveros pointed out the bill establishing such a wealth fund has not yet been passed by the Senate.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who is currently in Davos to participate in the WEF, is said do a “soft launch” of the proposed MIF during the event.

“A soft launch is premature. There is nothing to present. The bill establishing such a sovereign wealth fund has not yet been deliberated at the Senate — isn’t it jumping the gun to be talking about it in front of world economic leaders?” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“Hilaw ang diskusyon at maraming butas ang konsepto, magmumukhang amateur ang Presidente (The discussion is raw and the concept has many holes, the President will look like an amateur),” Hontiveros said.

The senator made the remarks after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced that the President would be promoting his proposed sovereign wealth fund before political, business, and civil society leaders at the said event.

“Indeed, it makes sense to talk to an international audience about a domestically-oriented sovereign development fund if there is already a portfolio of attractive projects that have been assembled. But we don’t have that yet,” she said.

Compared to Indonesia, the Philippines is ill-prepared to start a sovereign wealth fund as it lacks the windfall from exports to source the fund and the portfolio of ready projects to attract investments.

The deputy minority leader noted Indonesia has been touring the international circuit because it has tens of billions of dollars worth of ready projects that have been individually structured to attract capital.

“Indonesia also had significant windfall from its petroleum and mineral exports — with which it has decided to seed the Indonesian Investment Authority. Unfortunately, we do not have either of these two,” the senator emphasized.

She also pointed out the Philippines has recently been battered by high food and energy prices, and surveys show the people’s dissatisfaction at how the administration is handling inflation.

“Maraming problema ang bansa na dapat unahin. Problemang direktang tumatama sa mga Pilipino gaya ng mataas na presyo ng bilihin (The country has many problems that must be prioritized. Problems that directly affect Filipinos such as high commodity prices),” she said.

“Sana yung level ng energy na mayroon sa pagpupush ng wealth fund na ito ay mas higit pa para sa pagresolba ng isyu sa mataas na presyo ng sibuyas, itlog at iba pang agricultural products (I hope the level of energy there is in pushing for this wealth fund is higher when it comes to resolving the issue of the high price of onions, eggs and other agricultural products),” the lawmaker stressed.