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Funding for 80 infraprojects eyed via MIF

Charles Dantes, Julito G. Rada & Maricel Cruz

Marcos woos potential Maharlika Fund investors, touts high return to financiers at APEC sidelines

At least 80 infrastructure projects can be funded through the Philippines’ first sovereign wealth fund, the Maharlika InvestmentFund (MIF), President Marcos told potential investors at the Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) in San Francisco Thursday.

In his keynote speech, the President said he was looking forward to the start of operations of the MIF before the year ends.

CENTER STAGE. President Marcos delivers his message during the APEC CEO Summit in San Francisco, California on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), urging global investors to place their funds in the Philippines. PCO Photo

The MIF, he said, would serve as an additional source and mode offinancing for priority projects of the government, including the infrastructure flagship projects.

“These projects offer high returns and significant social-economic impact. Currently, we have identified about 80 potential infrastructure projects that are financeable through that fund, the Maharlika Investment Fund,” he said.

Mr. Marcos stressed the need to improve connectivity and the supply chain to help the Philippines regain its leading role in Southeast Asia.

“For our part, that’s what we’re doing and that brings us now beyond just the purely economic considerations, because now, there are political and diplomatic considerations because these partnerships are now essential,” he said.

In his speech, Mr. Marcos pointed out that international financial institutions and think tanks like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office project that the Philippines “will outpace its major regional peers.”

“In fact, Fitch Ratings recently affirmed the stable outlook for the Philippines. This is on the back of strong growth, gradual fiscalconsolidation, reductions in government debt-to-GDP ratio, and a comfortable external position supported by sound economic policies and robust economic reforms,” President Marcos said.

“The economy is well. I know we’ve heard it many times but I think today, without fear of contradiction, we can absolutely say that the economy is truly global and we must again view all that we do in that context,” Marcos added.

Marcos said in terms of spending, there is a clear delineation of thegovernment’s responsibility and what it is assigned to do, as againstthe role played by the private sector.

He also noted that investing in digital infrastructure would result in convenience and increased productivity.

“And that is what we’re really going for because when we look at successful economies that have had to pick themselves up after war for example, and the COVID was kind of a war, so, we have to pick ourselves up from that,” Marcos said.

“It is productivity, it’s an increase in productivity and that’s what we’re trying to achieve. Infrastructure – the physical infrastructure, a better, more efficient transport system, a cheaper transport system.

All of these will increase the productivity of every single Filipino worker.”

President Marcos also stressed the country’s readiness for artificial intelligence as he met with technology investors on the sidelines of his attendance at the 30th APEC Summit.

He said the Philippines is crafting a National AI Strategy to enhance the skills of Filipino workers with the help of AI and position the country as a Center of Excellence in Artificial Intelligence.

“The Philippines is ready to become your partner in navigating the AI future. As we look to the horizon, let’s ‘Make It Happen in the Philippines,’ where the promise of a future defined by technological inclusivity and shared growth is not just envisioned but actively realized,” President Marcos said.

“We believe AI can uplift the lives of Filipinos, increase the productivity of our enterprises, and enhance the competitiveness of our economy. And I’m certain our discussions here today will help the Philippines steer our road maps in a direction that maximizes the skills of Filipinos and helps them achieve their aspirations,” he added.

Also at the PEB, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the Philippine economy was doing very well and now was the best time to invest in the country.

“I have served four presidents. I have seen the ups and downs of the Philippine economy. During the last six years, it has changed. We opened up the economy. We did not wait for the [COVID-19] virus to subside… We are one of the fastest-growing countries in the fastest-growing regions in the world. So this is our moment,” Diokno said.

National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the economy still has room for further expansion and the growth targets for this year and in the medium term remained within reach.

The economy expanded by 5.9 percent in the third quarter, faster than the lackluster 4.3 percent in the second quarter but was weighed down by elevated inflation, higher interest rates, and underspending.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Eli Remolona said monetary authorities would remain on their toes despite the better-than-expected growth in gross domestic product (GDP) of 5.9 percent in the third quarter and the 4.9 percent inflation in October.

Remolona said the banking system in the Philippines remained strong and they emerged from the pandemic with very high levels of capital.

“They have been a source of stability for the economy,” Remolona said.

The Philippine Economic Briefing in San Francisco was the fourth organized by the administration in the United States, following the successful runs in Europe, Singapore, Japan, Canada, and the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez welcomed the agreement signed on the sidelines of President Marcos’ participation in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco, California that would help Filipinos fight cancer.

Signed on Wednesday (US time) with President Marcos as a witness, was the memorandum of agreement between Ayala Healthcare Holdings, Inc. (AC Health) with Varian Medical Systems Nederland B.V. and Varian Medical Systems Philippines, Inc.

The agreement calls for the development of oncology clinics in the Philippines and partnership on innovation and research to improve cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

“This collaboration between AC Health and Varian Medical Systems is a significant stride towards enhancing cancer care in our country,” Romualdez said.

Under the agreement, the Healthway Cancer Care Hospital of AC Health will serve as the hub of a network of oncology clinics strategically located throughout Metro Manila. This hub-and-spoke model will make it easier for patients to access comprehensive cancer care, regardless of their location.

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