Jinggoy Estrada wants further scrutiny of Maharlika fund

(INQUIRER) MANILA, Philippines — Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada wants to further scrutinize the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund, adding that he has so many questions about the sovereign wealth fund (SWF).

“We have to scrutinize it. We have to debate it extensively, at ako personally, marami din akong pwedeng maitanong (me personally I have so many questions about that),” Estrada said in a statement.

“There are a lot of questions that can be raised. First of all, saan nila kukunin ‘yung pera? (Where would they get the money),” Estrada said in a statement.

The proponents of the bill said the SWF will maximize the profitability of investible government assets for the benefit of Filipinos.

Funding sources will primarily come from government financial institutions such as the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS).

“Pangalawa, is it safe or is it risky? If they’re going to get it from GSIS, SSS, are we going to risk the pensions of our pensioners?” Estrada asked.

The senator also proposed that more safeguards be given to the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund, citing the experience of Malaysia with its state-owned investment fund 1MDB. The investment fund was supposed to promote development but was channeled to the personal bank account of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

“I’m not saying na mangyayari dito sa Pilipinas ‘yan no. Kailangan siguro maglagay pa tayo ng additional safety nets o safeguards kung maa-approve itong MWF (Maharlika Wealth Fund) na ito,” Estrada said.

(I’m not saying that this will happen in the Philippines, but we may need to put additional safety nets or safeguards if this MWF will be approved.)

The House of Representatives is working double time to speed up approval of the bill creating the country’s first ever sovereign wealth fund aimed at maximizing the profitability of investible government assets.