Marcos shunning GOCC dividends for Maharlika fund ‘good’ as it will hamper nat’l budget — Lagman
MANILA, Philippines —Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman said President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s opposition to using government-owned and controlled businesses (GOCCs) dividends for the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) is appropriate as these resources are needed to sustain the national budget.
On Tuesday, Lagman explained that GOCC dividends are legally used to support the General Appropriations Act (GAA), therefore appropriating them to the MIF could impair basic services.
“I am happy and thankful that President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. agrees with my position that the GOCC dividends should not be utilized as seed money for funding the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) because these dividends are traditionally and legally used as additional revenues to finance the GAA, more particularly basic socio-economic services on health, education, food security, employment generation, and infrastructure development,” the opposition lawmaker said.
“GOCC dividends must not be securitized or sequestered to fund the MIF because they are used for budgetary support to augment the sources of financing the GAA. They must not be parked in long-term investments,” he added.
Lagman also suggested leaving out LandBank and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) contributions.
“With the President’s aforesaid confirmatory statement, contributions from the LandBank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines, both GOCCs, must also be removed as funding source,” he said.
“Additionally, sovereign wealth funds must be effectively owned and controlled by the Government because they represent the State’s wealth. They must not be the subject of Initial Public Offering (IPO) which could lead to private control. Government ownership cannot be limited to less than 50%,” he added.
In the original MIF bill, the proposed sovereign wealth fund (SWF) had a starting capital of P275 billion, coming from Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) with P125 billion; Social Security System (SSS) with P50 billion; the national budget with P25 billion; and LandBank and DBP with P50 billion and P25 billion, respectively.
READ: Romualdez, other solons call for Maharlika Investment Fund for gov’t investment
Proponents of the bill withdrew these planned allocations and the P25 billion from the GAA due to lawmakers and netizens’ concerns that pension benefit payments to GSIS and SSS members may be disrupted. LandBank and DBP’s P75 billion contributed to the MIF’s ultimate P110 billion.
READ: Proposed Maharlika Fund would no longer include SSS, GSIS funds — Quimbo
READ: Minority solons question need for sovereign wealth fund
Without the LandBank and DBP allocations, the MIF will be left with just the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas dividends and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) contributions that have a combined worth of P35 billion.
READ: Maharlika fund tweaks leave it with P110 billion
Lagman’s fears about GOCC dividends being included as part of the MIF came after his fellow Albay lawmaker, House ways and means committee chairperson Rep. Joey Salceda said in an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel that he, along with other House members, were tasked to “reengineer” the SWF.
This came after the proposed bill lost vital funding sources, as mentioned earlier. Aside from tapping GOCC dividends, there were also proposed new versions of the bill where it would be opened to foreign investments — which Lagman is also against.
READ: Tweaked anew, Maharlika now open to foreign, private funders
President Marcos, however, was visibly baffled when asked about Salceda’s statements that they would be using GOCC dividends to fund the MIF, saying that he was unaware of that.
“I don’t know what he is saying that I approved. It may be the original language for the bill. There were consultations on that,” Marcos said.
“Maybe Cong. Joey is referring to our exchange of communication before the bill was filed to see if that’s the direction that we wanted to do. So, we came to a consensus,” he added.
READ: We’re working to customize Maharlika – Bongbong Marcos
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