MIF won’t put PH at risk, economic team assures senators

Domestic Affairs

MANILA: President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s economic managers assured senators that the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) will not be big enough to bring down the Philippine economy, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said in a media briefing on Tuesday.

Zubiri and 14 other senators were briefed on Monday by Secretaries Benjamin Diokno of Finance and Amenah Pangandaman of Budget, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Felipe Medalla and National Economic and Development Authority chief Arsenio Balisacan on the proposed MIF and how it would help accelerate the country's economy.

"Sabi niya ang economy natin (He said our economy) is a PHP19-trillion economy. So, a PHP100 to PHP150 billion economic fund will not make a big enough dent to put us in recession," Zubiri said.

Diokno made the assurance after Senator Robinhood Padilla asked if the Philippine economy will collapse if the MIF fails.

Zubiri said a worst-case scenario will be a global economic crisis that may put the MIF at risk.

"They still guaranteed that the way it is going now, ang trajectory ng ating ekonomiya ay tuloy-tuloy ang pagpaganda (the trajectory of our economy will continue to improve) in 2023 despite headwinds in the international, external forces," he said.

The Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, chaired by Senator Mark Villar, will start the discussions on the MIF on Wednesday.

"Kailangan maganda ang diskarte ni Senator Mark Villar sa pag-explain nito (Senator Mark Villar needs a good strategy in explaining this) not only in the committee level but also in the plenary to be able to get 13 votes," Zubiri said.

He also suggested that Villar allow the economic managers to explain the MIF first and follow it up with consultations with different sectors concerned.

Zubiri said he was convinced more about the benefits of the MIF after the briefing with the economic managers.

"Ang balik nila sa amin is 'kayo na po bahala Mr. Senator, Senate President, kasi kayo ang gagawa ng final version ng bill.' So, kung may kailangan pa kayong lagyan ng safeguards dun, lagyan nyo na. Payag naman sila (What they told us was 'it is up to you Mr. Senator, Senate President,' because you will be doing the final version of the bill. So, if it needs to have more safeguards, put some. They agreed)," he said.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has asked Congress to thoroughly review the proposed MIF, citing that getting it wrong would be “a very bad mistake.”

“Suriin ninyo ng mabuti. Siyempre, mas maganda na matapos sa lalong madaling panahon, pero hindi naman dapat imadali dahil napaka-importante (Review it carefully. Of course, it is better to finish it as soon as possible, but it should not be rushed because it is very important),” Marcos said in a recent interview.

The MIF shall be sourced from the investible funds of select government financial institutions (GFIs) contributions of the national government, declared dividends of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and other funding sources.

The proposed MIF shall be used to invest on a strategic and commercial basis in a manner designed to promote fiscal stability for economic development and strengthen the top-performing GFIs through additional investment platforms that will help attain the national government’s priority plans, the bill states.

Certified by Marcos as urgent, the bill was approved by the House of Representatives on Dec. 15, 2022 and was transmitted to the Senate four days later.

Source: Philippines News Agency