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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Solon: P75-b Maharlika fund still with Treasury sans board meeting

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The P75-billion contribution of the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines to the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) is still with the Bureau of Treasury, as the Maharlika Investment Corporation Board has yet to convene and nominate a bank account.

The board is expected to convene before the year ends, according to the Department of Finance’s budget sponsor at the House of Representatives, Sultan Kudarat 2nd District Rep. Horacio Suansing Jr.

Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman asked during the House plenary debates on DOF’s proposed 2024 budget how long will the funds be kept in the Treasury “and not remitted to the Maharlika Investment Corporation?”

“This depends upon the timeline or when the Maharlika Investment Corporation Board will be convened and which by that time will nominate a bank account,” Suansing replied.

“What is the timeframe for all of this?” Lagman asked further.

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“The timeline is before the year ends,” Suansing said.

The MIF law requires Land Bank and the national government to contribute P50 billion each to the fund. The Development Bank of the Philippines is also mandated to put in P25 billion.

Meanwhile, Speaker Martin Romualdez has maintained that changes made in the MIF bill before it was signed into law were constitutional.

Romualdez was responding to the petition filed against the MIF law, where he is among the respondents.

The petition was filed with the Supreme Court on Monday by Bayan Muna and Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.

According to Romualdez, the House of Representatives respects the petitioners’ right to question the legality of the law. He also said they fully trust the Supreme Court to be fair in handling the petition.

Suansing said the funds were earning 3% to 5% on government securities while still with the banks, However, the MIF will invest them in higher yielding securities.

Asked whether the MIF received other investments, Suansing said none so far.

The implementing rules and regulations of the Philippines’ first sovereign wealth fund were released in late August. The Finance Department said it has received applications from interested managers of the Maharlika Fund.

In their 56-page petition filed Monday, the petitioners challenged the constitutionality of the MIF on three grounds: violation of economic viability, violation of the independence of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, violation of three readings.

Pimentel previously batted for the recall of the MIF so that Congress could address its “glaring errors and discrepancies.”

Marcos’ economic team, led by Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, is confident the MIF will boost economic development and speed up the country’s growth, as they assure the public that it includes protective measures to ensure transparency, accountability, and careful monitoring of the fund’s operations.

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra earlier said the filing of a petition against the MIF is expected “in view of the public interest” generated by the law.

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