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Speaker, House transmit Maharlika bill to Senate for President to sign

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PRE-LEDAC GAB. House Speaker Martin Romualdez (left) and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri listen to other lawmakers as they lead the pre-LEDAC meting in Makati City late Monday to discuss priority measures for the Second Regular Session of the 19th Congress. Ver Noveno

Speaker Martin Romualdez and House Secretary General Reginald Velasco have signed the Maharlika Investment Fund bill and transmitted the signed copy to the Senate on Monday.

The latest version of the bill that was approved by Congress was earlier signed by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri while he was in the United States on June 21.

Romualdez, the principal author of the bill, earlier said the amendments introduced to the measure, specifically the inclusion of more safeguards against possible abuse and fraud, were “our way of addressing the concerns of our people.”

“The proposed sovereign wealth fund will help President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. keep the country on the high-growth path. We want to assure the public that the management of the fund will follow best practices and the principles of transparency and accountability,” he said.

He said the bill, as finalized, would insulate the MIF from political influence.

As revised, the proposed law lists the Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corp. (Pagcor), and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) as MIF contributors.

Their initial contributions are P50 billion for Land Bank, P25 billion for DBP, and 100 percent of dividends the BSP will give the national government.

Pagcor’s share will be 10 percent of gross gaming revenues.

Congress has removed the Social Security System and Government Service Insurance System, which are pension funds for the private sector and government workers, from the list of contributors.

The bill creates the Maharlika Investment Fund Corp., which will have a board of directors that would manage the fund.

The board will be chaired by the secretary of finance, with the corporation’s chief executive officer, Land Bank president, DBP president, seven members to be nominated by MIF contributors commensurate to their contributions, and four independent directors.

The MIF Corp. would have an advisory body composed of the secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, the director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, and the National Treasurer.

For her part, presidential sister Sen. Imee Marcos said more than talks on the Maharlika Fund, she wants to hear from the administration on programs to address widespread poverty, low wages, and the spiraling cost of basic commodities, among others.

She said these issues are all hitting the poor who spend 60 percent of their earnings on food.

“I hope we get a comprehensive program also in job generation,” she said.

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