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Majority of survey respondents favor wealth fund creation

Photo Credit: CNN Philippines 

A mobile phone-based survey found that one in two of respondents who were aware of the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) were in favor of the bill creating it, the market research company Tangere said Monday.

The survey of 2,400 respondents conducted between Dec. 8 and 10, found that 83.75 percent were aware of the MIF, which seeks to create a sovereign wealth fund to invest in key development areas.

The bill creating the fund was recently passed on third and final reading in the House of Representatives.

While major business groups and academics said the creation of a sovereign wealth fund was untimely, the Philippine Stock Exchange this week said the MIF could create “a multiplier effect” that could attract more investments and grow the local capital market.

“The Philippine Stock Exchange Inc supports the recently approved House Bill No.6607 establishing the Maharlika Investment Fund,” said PSE president Ramon Monzon on Monday.

“Since the MIF seeks to attract and invest capital for big-ticket infrastructure projects, sustainable green and blue infrastructures, and countryside developments, we believe these investments will create a multiplier effect that would attract more fund-raising activities and portfolio investments and in turn contribute to the growth and development of our capital markets,” he said.

Speaker Martin G. Romualdez on Monday welcomed the results of the Tangere survey.

“We are happy with the survey, which to us means that we are on the right track in advocating the establishment of this sovereign wealth fund, which is intended to benefit future generations of Filipinos,” Romualdez said.

“It shows that our advocacy has the support not just of major business g roups but of the general population as well,” Romualdez said.

Martin Peñaflor, CEO and founder of Tangere, said of those aware of the bill, 54.08 percent either strongly support (21.84 percent) or somewhat support (32.24 percent) its passage into law, while 21.34 percent are neutral and 24.58 percent either somewhat or strongly oppose it.

Almost half of those aware of the MIF bill either strongly believe (22.39 percent) or somewhat believe (27.01 percent) that the establishment of funds can be safeguarded from corruption.

More than half or 56.67 percent either strongly or somewhat believe that the MIF would be helpful in growing the economy, and 57.86 percent strongly or somewhat believe that it could help fuel crucial government projects.

With a margin of error of 2.191 percent, the survey had respondents from Metro Manila (12 percent), North and Central Luzon (23 percent), South Luzon (22 percent), the Visayas (20 percent) and Mindanao (23 percent).

Romualdez, the principal author of House Bill (HB) 6608, which proposes to establish the MIF, said enough safeguards, including transparency, have been written into the bill to ensure proper use of the planned sovereign fund and prevent abuse and corruption.

“During the lengthy and exhaustive plenary deliberations on the MIF bill, we have adopted various safeguards to ensure we can achieve the objectives of the Maharlika Investment Fund, and one of such is a provision to ensure transparency on relevant financial matters pertaining to the MIF,” Romualdez said.

He referred to a particular provision stating that the public can exercise the right to freedom of information regarding MIF financial issues.

Another provision states that all documents of the MIF and the Maharlika Investment Corp.—the independent body created to manage the fund—shall be open, available, and accessible to the public.

Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, meanwhile, pushed for the early approval into law of the proposed MIF bill because it will complement the strategies and hasten the attainment of goals set in the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028.

During the #AskNEDA year-end media briefing held Monday, Balisacan said the Maharlika would be another source of funds that will support the government’s investment priorities.

“So, we see the Maharlika as another vehicle for sources of funds for investments… just like PPP [Public-Private Partnership]. ODA [Official Development Assistance], and GA [General Appropriations]. So the more vehicles we have, the better….so that we can ramp up not only the infrastructure projects and even other priorities of the government,” Balisacan said.

Balisacan said it is important to swiftly carry out the strategies and attain the objectives and targets set in the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028.

Also on Monday, Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte rallied public support for the MIF.

Villafuerte said the MIF is designed to mobilize savings for augmenting funds for big-ticket infrastructure works and other priority programs meant to help the President deliver on his campaign promise to improve the lives of all Filipinos.

He appealed to the critics of the MIF bill to give House Bill 6608 a chance and wait for the Congress to hammer out what Mr. Marcos described as the “perfect” version of this sovereign fund.

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