Albay Rep. Joey Salceda on Sunday said Congress is studying the Senate’s version of the Maharlika Investment Fund, which President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier certified as urgent in a bid to hasten its passage as Congress adjourns sine die this week.
“We are talking to stakeholders and experts to see whether we need a bicam or if the Senate version is acceptable as it stands,” Salceda said.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Thursday expressed hope that the House of Representatives will adopt the Senate version of the MIF bill, which he said would include more safeguards to avoid possible misuse.
While the House passed its version late last year, the Senate aims to approve its version this week.
Because the bill was certified by President Marcos as urgent, senators can approve it on second and third reading in the same week.
But for the proposed investment measure to pass before Congress adjourns this week, the House must adopt the Senate bill without going through a bicameral conference to iron out differences between the two bills.
“I don’t want to preclude their processes. I think they’re in theperiod of interpellation right now, and will probably take up amendments and approval (this) week, at the earliest,” Salceda said.
“There’s still enough time to approve it before SONA, for sure. But whether there is bicam or not, whether the House ratifies the Senate version, as Senate President Zubiri suggested, really depends on the final output,” he added.
In the Senate version of the bill, the fund’s initial capital will come from the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines, dividends from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, and from the privatization of government assets.
The proposed Maharlika Investment Corporation will also be allowed to issue bonds.
There will also be limitations in relation to investments in real estate, which shall be limited to major capital projects, as endorsed by the National Economic and Development Authority Board, to ensure that these are in line with the government’s socio-economic development programs.
Other changes are new provisions with the forms of joint ventures andco-investments on the issuance of bonds as well as to the board of directors to reflect nine permanent members, instead of the original 15.
“Right now, my comment is I see that they removed all special exemptions to civil service rules, and to audit. Now, that’s well and good, but from a corporate operations point of view, that also presents certain challenges,” Salceda said.
“It appears that MIF will be a government-owned and controlled corporation in every sense. That has operational pros and cons,” he added.