Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno on Thursday invited Saudi investors to consider opportunities in the Philippines’ Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) and Islamic finance, assuring them of the safety, transparency, and responsible management of their investments.
“Safeguarding the fund and your investments is a top priority,” Mr. Diokno told top Saudi business leaders during a roundtable meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. expects the country’s first sovereign wealth fund to start operating by yearend, describing it on Thursday as still “a good one” after suspending it to supposedly improve its organizational structure.
Mr. Diokno said financial reporting will follow international standards.
“The Maharlika Investment Fund is founded on the Santiago Principles reflecting appropriate governance and accountability mechanisms and the conduct of sound and prudent investment practices by sovereign wealth funds,” he told Saudi investors.
“There will be three layers of audit based on law, by an internal auditor, a third-party external auditor, and a supreme audit agency independent of the government,” he added.
The MIF aims to boost the country’s growth. It is expected to help speed up the execution of some 197 key infrastructure projects valued at about USD 153 billion.
“The infrastructure flagship projects focus on upgrading physical and digital connectivity, transport, agriculture, health, energy, water, and climate resilience,” Mr. Diokno said. “These projects offer high rates of return and large socioeconomic impact.”
For his part, House Speaker Martin G. Romualdez floated opportunities for funding infrastructure projects in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
These projects include a PHP 10.19 billion hydromechanical and electro-mechanical rehabilitation of hydroelectric power plants in Lanao del Norte and the Mindanao Railway Project.
Appealing to their support for fellow Muslims, Mr. Diokno also sought investment from Saudi business leaders for the Philippines’ Islamic financing sector.
Last month, Mr. Diokno said that the government would issue $1 billion worth of “sukuk” or Sharia-compliant bonds before yearend, which will usher in the Philippines’ expansion towards Islamic financing. — M.J.B. Poliarco