‘Maharlika fund must be scrutinized to last comma, period’

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
�Maharlika fund must be scrutinized to last comma, period�
File photo shows Sen. Francis Tolentino.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo, file

MANILA, Philippines — Senators agree that the bill creating the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) requires scrutiny down to the last period, transparency in discussing it and no pressure of approving the measure in a given time.

In an interview with “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s One News Tuesday night, Sen. Francis Tolentino said he does not feel any pressure to pass the version of the Maharlika bill filed by Sen. Mark Villar and agrees with Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III on studying it well.

“I think Sen. Pimentel is correct. It will be scrutinized down to the last period. We will try to infuse more transparency here,” Tolentino said.

He also stressed that Malacañang has not put any pressure on them in the Senate to pass the proposed MIF.

“I don’t feel any pressure right now, although it was passed by the House… I’ve read the House version (and) it’s more for the infrastructure development of the country, the investments of our excess insofar as the government financial institutions are concerned. I don’t see anything wrong with that,” he added.

For the senator, the MIF must have a clear source of funds and that they would be invested in energy, agriculture and infrastructure because these are “what the country needs right now” coming out of the pandemic.

“So, participation of private funds, it can be done but these all have to be their excess funds,” he said.

Tolentino also underscored how the proposed MIF needs a transfer of knowledge and technology from more experienced sovereign wealth funds, citing the mechanism put in place by the Alaska Permanent Fund in the United States.

“Not offending our economic cluster members, I would see the example done by the Alaska Permanent Fund as a good example of technology transfer... something to do with the production, the funds generated for the production of oil in the State of Alaska,” he said.

“The Alaska Permanent Fund has been helping other democratic states form their own sovereign wealth funds. So... during the initial infancy stage, I would want to have that included as part of the law that nothing should prevent the Maharlika Investment Fund from engaging the services of more experienced sovereign funds,” he added.

During the interiew, Tolentino summed up his initial view of the MIF as a venture that would need “transparency, transparency, transparency” and a mechanism to take steps “done hand-in-hand with those who did this and who were successful before.”

“There’s nothing wrong with that,” Tolentino said of soliciting the assistance of other successful sovereign funds. “If we can get Norway, if we can get Singapore to be part of the transition to guide us, so be it.”

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