Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr to make sure MIF would be ‘professionally managed’

2023 June 22

SEC ANNIVERSARY. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. joins the Securities and Exchange Commission in celebrating its 85th anniversary in Makati City on Thursday (June 22, 2023). He said he would look into the changes made in the Maharlika Investment bill before signing it into law.

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MANILA — President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Thursday said he would look into the changes made in the Maharlika Investment (MIF) bill before signing it into law.

In a media interview on the sidelines of an event in Makati City, Marcos said he wanted to make sure that the proposed MIF would be “well and professionally managed.”

“I will sign it as soon as I get it. Am I happy? Well, that is the version that the House and the Senate has passed. And we will certainly look into all of the changes that have been made,” he said after the ceremony for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s 85th anniversary celebration.

Certified as “urgent” by Marcos, the MIF bill establishes a sovereign wealth fund that will be used to invest in a wide range of assets, including foreign currencies, fixed-income instruments, domestic and foreign corporate bonds, commercial real estate and infrastructure projects to help promote economic development.

The bill seeks the establishment of the Maharlika Investment Corporation (MIC) which will act as the “sole vehicle for the purpose of mobilizing and utilizing the MIF for investments in transactions in order to generate optimal returns on investments (ROIs).”

Under the proposed measure, the MIF will not touch the funds of the Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), or Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF).

While he understands the public sentiments against the use of pension funds as seed money for MIF, Marcos said the focus should be on the proper management of the sovereign wealth fund.

“Perhaps, we are looking in the wrong direction. The key to the success of any fund — a hedge fund, pension fund, sovereign fund, investment fund is the management,” Marcos said.

“That’s true that you must worry about that (use of pension fund). But the only way to make sure  that we do not get into trouble, that the fund does get into trouble is that it is well and professionally managed,” he added.

To make it happen, there must be a “very clear independence from day-to-day government functions,” Marcos said, recounting that he had directed the House of Representatives to strip the President, the central bank chairperson,and the Finance department of their role in the management of MIF.

Marcos said the decisions that will be made for the MIF must not be made by “political decisions in government” but by “finance professionals.”

“It has to operate as an independent fund well-managed professionally. Iyan ang susi diyan (That’s the key there),” he said.

“So, that’s where we are now. If the bill comes before me, I will sign it but the sequel to its success is who do we put in management, what is their experience, what is their reputation, what is their success rate. We have quite a few good money managers, financial managers that we can call upon,” he added.

On June 13, Marcos’ economic team assured the public that the MIF bill adheres to the fundamental principles of economic policy and financial market participation. 

Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos (PNA)