PHL sovereign wealth fund, ‘Maharlika,’ pitched in House

THE leadership of the House of Representatives on Monday proposed the creation of Maharlika Wealth Fund, a sovereign wealth fund (SWF), to maximize the profitability of investible government assets.

House Bill 6398, principally authored by Speaker Martin Romualdez, seeks the establishment of the Fund, which would draw resources primarily from contributions from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Social Security System (SSS), Land Bank of the Philippines (Land Bank), and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

Other authors of the measure are House Majority Leader Manuel Jose “Mannix” M. Dalipe, senior Deputy Majority Leader Ferdinand Alexander A. Marcos, Tingog party-list Reps. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez and Jude A. Acidre, and Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz A. Quimbo.

The proposed Maharlika Wealth Fund (MWF) is patterned after the SWFs of 49 countries, including Singapore, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, and East Timor.

SWF are state-owned investment funds typically financed by a country’s surplus revenues or reserves. Governments invest these funds in an array of both real and financial assets to stabilize national budgets, create savings for their citizens, or promote economic development.

In filing the bill, Romualdez said to achieve the objectives of the Agenda for Prosperity and the eight-point socioeconomic roadmap of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., it is essential for the government to “improve investment opportunities, promote productivity-enhancing investments, and ensure that the Philippines becomes an investment destination.”

He said the proposed MWF “will provide for the management, investment, and use of the proceeds of the fund.”

“Sovereign wealth funds are state-owned investment funds typically financed by a country’s surplus revenues or reserves. Governments invest these funds in an array of both real and financial assets to stabilize national budgets, create savings for their citizens, or promote economic development,” Romualdez said.

The Speaker added that his proposal would give the GSIS, SSS, Land Bank, and DBP the opportunity “to ensure their respective funds’ optimal asset allocation as well as ensure that resources are efficiently channeled to investments that will provide the most value not only to the participating GFIs, but also to the country.”

The Speaker cited the cases of Singapore and Indonesia that have successfully used their sovereign wealth funds.

He said Singapore’s SWFs provide the financial means for the city-state “to manage its foreign reserves, defend itself and protect its sovereignty without compromising its domestic program, and augment its land-limited economic space with global investments.”

Indonesia, he said, has attracted foreign investors to jointly capitalize its SWF to bring in much-needed investments in such sectors as transportation, including airports, supply chains, logistics, digital infrastructure, the green economy, healthcare services, the financial sector, technology, and tourism, ultimately propelling the country’s growth.

“As the Philippines secures its place not only as the Rising Star of Asia but as a real economic leader in the Asia Pacific, the creation of the MWF becomes imperative,” Romualdez said.

To ensure transparency and accountability, he said the MWF would adhere to the Santiago Principles—24 generally accepted principles and practices agreed to in October 2008 in Santiago, Chile, among countries with SWFs, investment recipient countries and international organizations.

The stakeholders committed to observe that SWFs will comply with all applicable regulatory and disclosure requirements in countries in which SWFs invest and that the SWFs will have in place a transparent and sound governance structure that provides adequate operational controls, risk management, and accountability, among other commitments.

The bill creates the Maharlika Investment Corp., an independent corporate body, that shall act as vehicle for the purpose of mobilizing and utilizing the MIF for investments in transactions that will enable the fund to reap returns on investments while helping boost job creation and reduce poverty by steering the economy back to its high-growth path.

Each government financial institution shall invest equity to start up the fund with an initial investment of P250 billion.

Under the bill, the envisioned MWF would have a governing board to  be in charge of managing the fund, composed of nominees of the contributing GFIs. The board would include two independent directors.

Image credits: House of Representatives/Facebook


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