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Marcos in Davos: Maharlika fund to drive infra in energy, agriculture

The proposed Philippine sovereign wealth fund is meant to make money sitting in state-owned and commercial banks work for the government and pursue projects, particularly in energy and agriculture, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said on Wednesday.

Marcos made the remarks in a breakfast meeting with chief executive officers on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The measure on the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund was approved on the third and final reading by the House of Representatives on December 15. It was transmitted to the Senate for its consideration on December 19.

"When we first discussed the sovereign wealth fund, the real purpose is that there is not enough money in government to do all the things that we need to do," Marcos said.

"We have reserves. And we must make [sure] that money sitting in banks, commercial and government… We need to find a way to make that money work for us, and that's why we thought the sovereign wealth fund would be a good idea to leverage what assets the government has, what monies the government has," he added.

Marcos said the proposed sovereign wealth measure will fund critical infrastructure projects "especially since the development that we are anticipating to initiate are really big-ticket items."

"We're talking about energy, we're talking about infrastructure, we're talking about agricultural development, we're talking about digitalization. So all of these will need a great deal of support," Marcos said.

The President said the fund will “play its part” in encouraging public-private partnerships (PPPs), which is crucial in national growth and development.

“The idea is that the sovereign wealth fund will play its part in encouraging also our PPPs. The rules have been changed by the NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority)… and that has made it much much easier now for investors to come in and to engage in PPPs," he said.

Marcos said there would be efficiency and assurance in strategically driving important investments in the country with the help of professionals.

"The management of the wealth fund must be seen to be rational, sober, professional… we will certainly make sure that anyone who will look at the fund will see that it is run professionally and properly,” Marcos said.

“In that way, the wealth fund has a good future to be able, as I said, to succeed in doing what we want to do, which is leveraging what we have for these big-ticket investments," he added.

Marcos earlier said that the proposed Maharlika wealth fund was among his administration's measures to diversify the country's financial portfolio.

The measure creating the MIF states that it would be funded by the investible resources of the Landbank of the Philippines (P50 billion), the Development Bank of the Philippines (P25 billion), and the dividends/profits of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.—JP Soriano/Richa Noriega/NB, GMA Integrated News