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Legislative process will refine Maharlika — Marcos

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. answers questions from the media after his first Cabinet meeting in Malacañan Palace, July 5. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ KRIZ JOHN ROSALES

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said on Monday that Congress must be allowed to perform its legislative functions in improving the proposed sovereign wealth fund bill.

“Let’s not debate until we see the final form because we could be debating provisions that will no longer exist,” Mr. Marcos was quoted in a Palace statement as telling reporters accompanying him on a flight to Brussels, where he is due to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-European Union summit on Dec. 13-14.

Mr. Marcos said he is letting legislators do their jobs and expects them to deliver a “perfect” version of the bill for him to sign.

“It is very clear that we need added investment and this (sovereign wealth fund) is another way to get that,” he added when queried about House Bill 6398, which proposes to create the Maharlika Wealth Fund.

The original form of the bill called for the fund’s seed money to be provided by the two major pension funds, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS), as well as the two big government banks, the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

The legislation has since been altered, with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas designated as the source of the fund’s capital.

Last week, House committee on appropriations Senior Vice Chairperson Stella Luz A. Quimbo said the proposed fund would no longer tap the GSIS and SSS for capital.

Labor groups have expressed concern over the proposal saying the government should not waste funds meant to benefit both private and public sector workers, including minimum-wage earners.

The economic managers, led by Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno, have backed the fund as a means of increasing investment in infrastructure projects and countryside development, particularly in agriculture, according to the Palace statement. — John Victor D. Ordoñez

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