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PBBM to ‘soft launch’ MIF at World Economic Forum

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DESPITE the bill for its creation still pending in Congress, the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) will already be “soft launched” by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the 2023 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland next week to help attract more investments in the country.

During his briefing with DFA for his Davos trip, Marcos disclosed he wanted to include the ongoing government efforts to create its own Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) in his presentation before business leaders at the WEF.

The MIF, which is patterned after the SWFs of other countries, is aimed at allowing the government to increase investments in priority sectors, particularly in infrastructure, power; and agriculture.

Business leaders opposed the creation of the MIF since it could negatively affect the country’s credit rating, while labor groups are against it since it can take away government funds from much needed public services.  

Broad strokes

In a press conference in Malacañang last Thursday, DFA Undersecretary Carlos D. Soretta said the President’s discussion on the MIF at the WEF will only be in “broad strokes” since the bill for its creation is still “evolving” in Congress.

“We have the fullest respect for the Congressional process, and the open hearings that they’re having,  and how to work out the details but the broad strokes with the President have a very, very good grasp of what he wants to achieve, whatever form the Sovereign Wealth Fund finally takes,” Soretta explained. 

The House of Representatives (HOR) has already approved House Bill No. 6608 to establish the MIF on third and final reading last month, but the Senate has yet to pass its own version of the legislation.  

Aside from the MIF, Marcos is also expected to discuss other priority agenda of his administration, namely, food and energy security, digitalization, climate action, attracting investments and promoting beneficial trade addressing inequality and providing accessible social services.

Soretta noted WEF provides the “great venue” for the government to push for its economic-related initiatives including the MIF.

“Global and business leaders will be there, and they will hear directly from the President what fundamentals that we have, and that will lead us to decide that we should have a Sovereign Wealth Fund,” Soretta said.

Side meetings

Marcos is also expected to hold high-level meetings with the president of South Africa, the prime minister of Belgium, and the president of the European Commission during the sidelines of the WEF.

“We’re preparing all the talking points not just with the global leaders but also heads of financial institutions that he wants to meet,” Soretta said.

Also part of the President’s itinerary in Switzerland are meetings with businesses as well as the Filipino community in Europe.

“They will be coming in from other countries in Europe to meet the President. We’re at 700 [participants] now, 700, Eric? Have registered and increased. We hope to accommodate all of them,” Soretta said. 

ASEAN representation

Marcos’s participation at the 2023 WEF, to be held from January 16 to 20, was first announced by House Speaker Martin G. Romualdez last month.

Soretta said the President’s attendance at the WEF is notable since he will be the only state leader from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to join the event. 

“So he will be in a wonderful position to represent not only our country but how our own region, ASEAN and the East Asia Region, can be the engine of growth for the world economy,” Soretta said.

Cabinet members joining Marcos at the WEF are Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual, Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno, Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Susan V. Ople and Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil.

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