Remove blinders

Unlike the rigidity of the critics on the characteristics of the sovereign wealth fund, Marcos said the MIF will be different in that it will be more of a tool to attract more investments.

Belonging to a super minority of two leaders Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III was in his full obstructionist mode in seeking the rejection of the Maharlika Investment Fund bill for “not enough research.”

From the time the House of Representatives was deliberating on the bill, Pimentel had made it clear that he would block the measure when it was transmitted to the Senate.

Senator Mark Villar filed in the upper chamber a version of the MIF proposal which Pimentel has yet to read, obviously.

Crafters of the MIF were given a directive by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to make the measure perfect even as he certified it as urgent.

Despite the nitpicking from detractors in Pimentel’s mold, the evolution of the sovereign wealth fund continues.

The latest version will be private sector-driven that will involve the securitization of dividends from state corporations and its eventual listing on the stock exchange to raise the seed fund.

This will address concerns about revenues of state pension funds and financial institutions being used to build up the sovereign wealth fund.

Its final makeup will likely be a money pool managed as a private corporation but with strict supervision from the government.

President Marcos has said the measure is being perfected, adding that the completed version will suit the needs of the Philippines.

“We have to design it very specifically to the Philippine condition. And that’s what the legislators are trying to do now — to make sure that it will be suitable for us and it will be a good thing for us. So that’s the process that we’re undergoing now,” Marcos said.

Unlike the rigidity of the critics on the characteristics of the sovereign wealth fund, Marcos said the MIF will be different in that it will be more of a tool to attract more investments to the country.

The Indonesian model — which suits the characteristics of developing nations — employed its version of the sovereign fund to partner with bigger global peers that allowed them to invest in projects with high returns.

Jakarta is also evolving its Indonesia Investment Authority to include local government surpluses while calling its entry an endowment fund.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo recently urged local governments to set aside regional budgets for savings in the sovereign wealth fund.

Instead of the excess local funds lying idle — which in the Philippine setting would be relevant as local governments gain more financial autonomy as a result of the Supreme Court’s Mandanas ruling — Jokowi appealed for these to be invested in the IIA.

The Indonesian model is an affirmation of the view of the proponents of the MIF that it has vast room to develop to respond to investment challenges.

Those who want to knock down the MIF in its evolving state are only motivated by their partisan bias.


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