Maharlika Fund vital to PH infra dev't, says nat'l treasurer

The Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) is vital in accelerating the implementation of infrastructure projects of the national government, National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon said.

De Leon said in a news forum on Saturday, June 3, that the MIF would allow the government to generate more funding for key infrastructure development programs beneficial to the country.

“Mayroon po tayong 194 projects na na-identify na po ng NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) costing about P9 trillion. So with this Maharlika Investment Fund, mas mapapadali po natin at mas mapapabilis po natin ang pag-implement ng mga infrastructure projects na ito sa tulong na rin po ng ating private sector (The NEDA has identified 194 projects costing about P9 trillion. So with this Maharlika Investment Fund, we can expedite the implementation of infrastructure project with the help of the private sector)” she said.

“Ito rin po, magiging isang vehicle po ito para makapag-attract po tayo ng mga other funds from offshore, from the international funding community dahil they can invest into this fund na mapupunta naman po sa mga priority projects ng ating administrasyon (This will also become a vehicle to attract other funds from offshore, from the international funding community because they can invest into this fund which will go to the administration's priority projects),” she added.

De Leon reiterated that the concept of a sovereign wealth fund is not new, with many countries having already established their own investment fund scheme.

The National Treasurer stressed that establishing a sovereign wealth fund is not only done when there is an income surplus, saying that "it has evolved through the years" to use such funding mechanism to attract inflows and private capital "to be able to co-invest into the domestic and also into the national government investment funding sources."

She also allayed fears of critics that the MIF would eventually deplete the funds intended for loans to agriculture and non-agriculture sector and various industries as the initial investment would be sourced from government financial institutions such as the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

The LANDBANK, she said, has about P1.3 trillion investible funds, while the P50-billion fund intended for the MIF only translates to about 3 percent of this.

"So, the LANDBANK still has a lot of funds to be able to cater to the requirements of the agricultural sector and our farmers and fisherfolks,” De Leon noted.

The DBP, on the other hand, would only have to invest about 2.7 percent of their P850-billion investible funds.

For the BSP, it would be contributing its dividends to the MIF for the first two years, she added.

The National Treasurer said the MIF bill, which has been certified urgent by President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and has passed by both Houses of Congress, has ample safeguards against graft and corruption.

De Leon said there will be an internal auditor under the Commission on Audit that would be looking over and conducting regular audits on the Fund.

There will also be an external auditor who will also look into the use of the funds in line with rules and regulations on the investments of the funds, noting that Congress also formed an oversight committee to monitor the MIF.