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Agriculture industry lobbies for ‘mandatory’ Maharlika allocation

THE AGRICULTURE industry said it is hoping to capture as much as 30% of the proposed sovereign wealth fund’s investable capital, saying that the wealth fund will draw away funding from the farm sector.

Danilo V. Fausto, president of the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. (PCAFI), told reporters Friday, “We demand a mandatory Maharlika Investment Fund share for agriculture productivity.”

Mr. Fausto said 25 to 30% of any “activity, investment or investable funds” of the MIF should go to agriculture, because Maharlika draws its funding in part from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).  

“These are our agricultural banks. I do not see in the Maharlika Investment Fund anything on the agricultural sector. I want to make it mandatory in the law that a portion of that fund should be invested in the agricultural value chain,” Mr. Fausto said.

Last week, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the Maharlika bill, with 279 legislators voting in the affirmative and six against.

The Maharlika bill, or House Bill (HB) No. 6608, had been certified as urgent by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

The bill lists as “allowable investments” foreign currency, metals, fixed-income instruments, domestic and foreign corporate bonds, equities, real estate, infrastructure projects, loans and guarantees, and joint ventures or co-investment projects.

The initial capital of the Maharlika fund will be put up by LANDBANK, the DBP, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Mr. Fausto noted that the government should focus on agriculture because it will “certainly generate profit.”

“If you put it in processing, milling, drying, logistics, it will make money and I suggest it should not be run by the government,” Mr. Fausto added.

The proposed MIF also generated backlash after the initial involvement of pension funds in putting up the capital and the designation of the President as chairman of the fund’s board.  

On Dec. 15, legislators agreed to remove the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Social Security System (SSS) as Maharlika funders. — Ashley Erika O. Jose

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