Maharlika fund could get approved after Easter Sunday — Romualdez
TOKYO, Japan — There is a chance that the proposed sovereign wealth fund (SWF) of the Philippines may get approved after Easter Sunday or April 9, House of Representatives Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said.
Romualdez in an interview late Friday night was asked if amending the Constitution would be a problem for the Philippine economy’s momentum — he answered that it would not be a concern especially if lawmakers listen to the people’s request.
He referenced the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) which saw several revisions before being approved by the House on final reading, adding that it could be approved by the Senate after Easter.
“Nakita naman natin na sa umpisa maraming mga tanong, maraming mga batikos pa, pero hinarap natin lahat tapos sinagot natin lahat tapos yung mga suggestions, amendments, tinanggap nating lahat kaya imbes na maraming tutol, 92 percent of the House signed it, sila ang co-author kasi there’s ownership eh, very participative yan eh. So you listen, that’s what we’re there for, that’s why may hearing — nakikinig tayo,” Romualdez told Filipino reporters here in Tokyo.
“So that’s why we’re able to pass it very, very quickly because we accepted all the amendments that we could and there’s ownership by most, not all, the Congressmen and that’s how it passed. And I have a funny feeling in the Senate it will pass soon. Maybe after Easter tapos na yan (it is done),” he added.
According to Romualdez, Senators saw the House-approved version of the bill — House Bill (HB) No. 6608 — and they liked it.
The House last December 15, 2022 passed HB No. 6608 on the third and final reading, on the same day it was passed on second reading as President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. certified the bill as urgent.
“Because they saw na the draft. The draft went from a draft to the one that we passed…and they …uy maganda na to. There are a few questions din and that’s what we’re asking the Senate to do. If they can still perfect it, pagandahin pa, pagandahin niyo,” Romualdez said.
“At the end of the day, because we know that the sovereign wealth fund will be a magnet for foreign investments. It will attract a lot of people overseas because they usually say — oh, we’ve been hearing a lot of good things about the Philippines — usually a sovereign wealth fund attracts a lot of foreign capital because those running the sovereign wealth fund are experts in the field of finance, trade, and banking, known for their probity and their integrity,” he added.
Earlier, Romualdez and other House officials filed HB No. 6398 — the original version of HB No. 6608 — a SWF which the government can tap for investments both local and abroad.
It initially drew controversy after the original version of the bill included P125 billion worth of funds from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and P50 billion from the Social Security System (SSS) — stroking fears that pensioners may lose their funds if investments made by the MIF fail.
Eventually, the GSIS and SSS funds — including the funds from the national budget — were removed from the list of fund sources of the MIF. The final version of the bill which was approved by the House before the session break last December also explicitly stated that the MIF would never source funds from both GSIS and SSS.
The House was able to approve the measure on second and third reading on the same day thanks to Marcos’ move to certify the legislation as urgent. Originally, measures approved on second reading would need three session days before it is placed back to the plenary for the third reading.
Marcos will be in Japan until February 12. Prior to this meeting, the President met with members of Japan’s Imperial Family and then Prime Minister Kishida Fumio.
He also talked with various businesspeople in Japan, particularly with shipowners, from tourism industry, and those who operate semiconductor and electronics firms.