Groups protest vs proposed Maharlika Wealth Fund

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 5) — Some members of Bayan Muna and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers staged a rally on Monday to protest a bill creating the Philippine sovereign investment fund, which will be called the Maharlika Wealth Fund (MWF).

"Initially, talo dito ang mamamayan. ₱50 billion yung mawawala sa taumbayan kapag ito ay naaprubahan. Tayo, hirap na hirap sa pagbabayad ng taxes — yung VAT sa langis, yung VAT sa basic commodities. And yet, kayang kaya palang magbigay ng gobyerno through this [MWF] ng ₱50 billion,” ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro said ahead of the public consultation held by the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries on House Bill (HB) 6398 on the MWF’s creation.

[Translation: Initially, the people will lose here. People will lose ₱50 billion if it is approved. We already have a hard time paying taxes — the VAT on oil, the VAT on basic commodities. And yet, the government is able to provide ₱50 billion through this MWF]

Castro expressed her concern that contributions of members of the Social Security System (SSS) and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) will be put at risk if they are invested in the MWF. She said sovereign wealth funds should be funded by excess government revenues.

The sovereign wealth fund's initial investment of ₱250 billion will come from the GSIS (₱125 billion), SSS (₱50 billion), Land Bank of the Philippines (₱50 billion), and Development Bank of the Philippines (₱25 billion).

In a statement, ACT spokesperson Ruby Bernardo said the motive behind MWF’s creation is suspicious considering the various exemptions proposed for the fund.

The latest draft of HB 6398 suggests exempting the MWF and its managing government corporation from the following laws: the GOCC Governance Act of 2011 (Optional for the Founding GFIs); the Civil Service Law; the Salary Standardization Act; the Government Procurement Act (RA 9184), and the Competition Law (RA 10667).

The MWF will also be exempted from taxes and rules on the disposal of assets and the review of contracts by the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel.