BRUSSELS, Belgium: President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. voiced support for the Maharlika Wealth Fund (MWF), saying the controversial proposal will benefit the country through the investments it will bring.
“I wouldn’t have brought it up otherwise. It’s very clear that we need added investment. This is another way to get that,” he said in a brief interview with reporters on the chartered flight from Manila to this European city on Sunday night for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-European Union (ASEAN-EU) Commemorative Summit.
The government’s economic managers — Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Felipe Medalla – also backed the MWF, saying it will fast-track the efforts to reach the country’s objectives for inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
Among the direct benefits they cited are increased investments in and funding of big-ticket infrastructure projects through Marcos’ “Build Better More” initiative, high-return green and blue projects and countryside development as well as increased access of future generations to income from investments, such as potential earnings from mining.
Various groups and some lawmakers however have opposed the proposal over concerns of its timeliness, with the Philippines trying to stay afloat amid its more than P13 trillion debt.
Initially, government financial institutions like the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Social Security System (SSS), Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and the National Treasurer were supposed to pool money to raise the P275-billion start up fund as provided for by House Bill 6398.
Proponents of the measure last week dropped the GSIS and SSS from the list of sources of funding.
Marcos said he will let legislators “do their jobs” and appealed to the public and critics of the MWF to hold off criticisms until the final version is released.
“We’re just doing the regular process of looking at the bill. Well, not we. It’s the legislature. So, let them do their jobs. Para gawin nilang perfect (so they can make it perfect),” he said.
“Let’s not debate until we see the final form because we could be debating about provisions that will no longer exist. So, antayin natin kung anong gawin ng legislature (let us wait and see what the legislature will do),” he added.