PH still drowning in debt to support Maharlika fund — solon

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 13) — A lawmaker expressed his disapproval for the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund on Tuesday, arguing the Philippines should not launch a sovereign wealth fund even as it continues to deal with a massive debt.

During the House of Representatives' plenary debates on the controversial investment trust, Camarines Sur Third District Rep. Gabriel Bordado said the country has no capacity to implement the Maharlika Investment Fund given its national debt reaching ₱13.64 trillion and widening trade deficit.

Bordado said pursuing the proposal is "not a good idea at this time."

The solon added that the government must focus instead on beefing up the economy, which was crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I would like to suggest that instead of pushing for the Maharlika Investment Fund, let's come up with measures to strengthen our economy. Let's address the worsening inflation," Bordado said.

Citing sentiments from economists and academicians, Bordado said other countries' sovereign wealth funds "solve a problem of excess," including windfall revenues from booming industries.

"But the Philippines does not enjoy such excess," he pointed out.

"If the essence of the sovereign wealth funds is to come from surplus government funds, how would we be able to afford it? This makes repaying our debts extremely difficult," Bordado said.

So far, the identified sources for the fund are the Land Bank of the Philippines (₱50 billion), the Development Bank of the Philippines (₱25 billion), and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (100% of dividends).

The Social Security System and the Government Service Insurance System were removed as sources of the fund after lawmakers received backlash from the public amid concerns about the pensions and benefits of the agencies' members.