Imee Marcos rejects cousin, nephew’s proposed Maharlika Investment Fund

Sen. Imee Marcos (Photo by Analy Labor for Daily Tribune)

Senator Imee Marcos on Friday rejected the proposed measure seeking to establish the Maharlika Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund that would supposedly maximize the profitability of investible government assets.

“With all due respect to our bankers and economists who have recommended the measure, I think creating a sovereign fund at this time of gargantuan debt and an impending world recession seems heedless and extremely risky,” Imee said in a statement.

“Ang laki-laki pa ng utang natin sa ating mga healthcare workers at senior citizens, sa retirement benefits ng mga sundalo, pulis, at iba pa,” she added.

Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Senior Deputy Majority Leader Sandro Marcos, and several other lawmakers filed House Bill No. 6398, which proposes to establish the Maharlika Investment Fund.

Martin is Imee’s first cousin while Sandro, the son of her brother President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is her nephew.

Imee lamented that establishing a sovereign wealth fund is “risky” considering that the funding for the proposed MIF will be drawn primarily from government financial institutions like the Government Service Insurance System and Social Security System.

“Do we still have money for this? Why are we risking the retirement funds of those with the GSIS and others at a time when even the World Bank said the economy is failing especially in mid-2023?” she asked.

“If we really have money to use for investments, why don’t we use it for water storage, fixing power rates, and bringing the cost of commodities,” she added.

The lawmaker stressed that, historically, a sovereign fund is established when a country receives a windfall, citing Norway whose model fund, she said, began with the North Sea oil and gas profits.

Imee said she hasn’t read the bill yet, but pointed out that the Norwegian sovereign wealth is being managed by its Central Bank on behalf of the Ministry of Finance.

“Who and how the fund will be managed is another area for serious discussion,” she said.

“After all, Malaysia’s 1MDB, besides Singapore’s Temasek, is the single other sovereign fund in ASEAN. And we know too well the catastrophic result of that experiment — they squandered $1 billion which led to the downfall of Najib Razak’s government along with its giant party UMNO,” she added.

The eldest sister of the president is referring to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal, often referred to as the 1MDB scandal.

Malaysia’s 1MDB was a state fund established by Najib to drive economic development in the country, but was later on used as a scheme to embezzle billions of public funds.

Under HBN 6398, the president of the Philippines will sit as chairperson of the MIF’s board of directors. He will also have the authority to assign a designated person to replace him as chair.

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