Expert says public vigilance crucial in Maharlika fund
Until the government is clear about where to get funds and the type business it intends to invest in, there is a need to remain vigilant about the Maharlika Wealth Fund, a local expert said.
Gerry Gatawa, a professor from the Saint Louis University School of Academy, Management, Computing and Information Sciences, said the Maharlika Wealth Fund, although it was “re-engineered” by its proponents after the public backlash it received, should still be scrutinized.
Gatawa said while proponents have excluded the pensions from the Social Security System and the Government Service Insurance System as fund sources, this does not address the issues hounding the proposal.
“Now they say the government will source funds from dividends from government-owned and controlled corporations, such as from the dividends of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, but there is still an option for the board of trustees of SS and GSIS to decide if they want to invest in the Maharlika Wealth Fund,” Gatawa, who is also the president of the Union of Faculty and Employees of SLU.
He said granting the dividends of the BSP, which is P34.81 billion, is used, it is still not enough as the government requires P200B as initial fund for the Maharlika Wealth Fund.
“That is only an initial investment, which means the government will require additional funding,” he said.
Gatawa was invited by the city council to share his views on the Maharlika Wealth Fund, a proposal that sought to raise revenues to be used by the government to invest in an array of outlets, such as infrastructure projects.
Critics of the Maharlika Wealth Fund questioned the proposal’s timing, especially since it came at a time the government is on deficit and has no surplus funds from where it should get money to finance the intention.
Gatawa also told the council the kind of business the government wants to invest in remains unclear.
“It defeats several business principles. They cannot present what type of business we are dealing with. Ano ‘yung negosyo na papasukin ng gobyerno? We need to explain that to the people. We also need to present to the public the sources of funds and can the government justify why it is getting funds from such sources,” he said.
Asked if the country is ready for the Maharlika Wealth Fund, Gatawa said the fact that the government is looking for the surplus of other entities shows the proposal is not ripe.
“The government is on a deficit. That’s why it is pooling the surplus funds of other existing entities,” he said.
He added in countries where corruption is not rampant, a sovereign wealth fund is good and will serve to the best interest of its citizens, but not in a country where the perception of corruption is high. – Jane B. Cadalig