Solon urges Congress to clarify role of SSS, GSIS in Maharlika fund

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 14) — A lawmaker from the minority bloc on Wednesday said Congress should clarify the role of the major pension funds amid the possibility they will still be allowed to invest in the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF).

“There is a chance to clarify that and I think it will happen tonight in what we call period of amendments to clarify that provision on that particular issue,” Senior Deputy Minority leader Paul Daza told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

During Tuesday’s plenary debates, Manila 5th District Rep. Irwin Tieng, who sponsored House Bill 6608, said the inclusion of the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) in the proposed MIF will depend to the respective agencies’ board of directors.

While SSS and GSIS were removed as sources of seed capital for the fund following public clamor, the latest version of the bill states that “other GFIs (government financial institutions) and government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) may be authorized to contribute to the MIF subject to their respective investment and risk management strategies.” 

Daza said he wants the pension funds to be clearly separated from the MIF, as it was their removal as seed money that made him drop his initial opposition to the proposed measure.

The identified sources of the initial funding are Land Bank of the Philippines (₱50 billion), Development Bank of the Philippines (₱25 billion), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (100% of dividends).

Subsequent annual contributions will come from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) and other government-owned gaming operators that will contribute at least 10% of gross gaming revenue streams, the bill noted.

The national budget was also part of the earlier version of the bill, but was later removed, which was a good move according to Daza.

“There hasn’t been a lot of talk on the national budget on the original version. That could have been a much bigger amount, so I think it’s a better situation to take from Pagcor,” the lawmaker from Northern Samar added.

Meanwhile, Daza said he also agrees to have the Department of Finance (DOF) secretary head the MIF’s board of directors instead of the president, as earlier approved by a panel at the lower chamber. 

“In terms of the history of DOF secretaries in our country, I think for the most part, I don’t recall any issues, at least large issues in the last few administration of DOF secretaries, so I think there is more trust in having a DOF secretary be the chairman rather than the president,” he said.

The House of Representatives plans to approve the MIF bill on second reading this week before going on a month-long break as some lawmakers question its timing and concerned groups call for the scrapping of the proposed fund.