By Jose Cielito Reganit

House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez (File photo)

MANILA – House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Wednesday said the keen interest shown by global leaders in the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) during the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland bolstered the wisdom of fast-tracking the passage of the proposed measure creating the sovereign wealth fund at the House of Representatives.

“The swift passage of House Bill No. 6608, creating the Maharlika Investment Fund, enabled the President and the Philippine delegation to take advantage of the enormous opportunity to showcase the positive developments in our country and creative strategies to gain growth momentum,” Romualdez said in a statement.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. introduced the MIF during the Philippines’ Country Strategy Dialogue at WEF on Tuesday, saying the process of establishing the country’s first sovereign wealth fund is underway.

“Such a fund is one tool among many in our efforts to diversify our financial portfolio, which includes our existing institutions pursuing investment that will generate stable returns, but also welfare effects spanning employment creation, improvement of public service, and a decrease in costs of economic activities,” Marcos said in his opening remarks at the dialogue.

Romualdez credited the collective effort of the House, from the leadership to the opposition bloc, for the passage of HB 6608 featuring adequate safeguards to protect against corruption or abuse.

With Marcos certifying the bill as urgent, the House approved it on final reading on Dec. 15, 2022, and was transmitted to the Senate on Dec. 19, 2022.

The Senate leadership said the MIF measure is among the priority legislations that the chamber would work on when Congress resumes session this month.

“We could not have accomplished this challenging task without the cooperation and sacrifice of our members who exerted tremendous effort and diligence so we can conduct exhaustive debates and introduce necessary refinements to the Maharlika Investment Fund bill before our Christmas break,” Romualdez said.

House Bill 6608 or the Maharlika Investment Fund Act (MIF), is an independent fund that adheres to the principles of good governance, transparency and accountability, that will be sourced from investible funds of select government financial institutions (GFIs), contributions of the national government, declared dividends of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and other sources.

Members of the Philippine delegation to Davos noted that the “huge interest” shown by WEF attendees in the proposed MIF.

“Marami pong interesado sa Pilipinas at siyempre po sa wealth fund dahil ito ay isang pondo na nakikita nila na magagamit natin para lalong bumilis ang development ng ating bansa (Many have expressed interest in the Philippines and, of course in the wealth fund because they see it as a fund that we can use to hasten our country’s development),” Senator Mark Villar said in a media interview.

In a separate interview, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the proposed MIF would help fund the country’s many infrastructure projects, that in the past were usually funded through loans from Japan, the World Bank (WB) and Asian Development Bank (ADB), among others.

“Ngayon, kung mayroon tayong ganung fund (MIF) pwede natin gamitin ‘yun para mapondohan ‘yun (infrastructure). ‘Yun ang purpose nun (Now, if we have the MIF, we can use it to fund infrastructures. That’s the purpose of the MIF),” Diokno said.

Earlier, Romualdez said Marcos’ Davos stint is off to a good start as his investment pitch for the Philippines received “a very positive response” from some of the world’s top CEOs and investment experts. (PNA)