Maharlika to start as national development fund

Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star
Maharlika to start as national development fund
Lawmakers applaud President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. after the signing of the law the establishing the Maharlika Investment Fund (R.A. 11954) in simple rites held at Malacanang Palace October 17, 2023.
Office of House Speaker Martin Romualdez

MANILA, Philippines — The head of state-run Maharlika Investment Corp. (MIC) envisions the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) to start as a national development fund that will invest in critical areas in the country and address different pain points, including creating much needed jobs for Filipinos.

MIC president and CEO Joel Consing, a topnotch investment banker and multi-awarded CFO, said once the MIF generates excess funds from several low-hanging fruits, it can then roll the dice on other investment opportunities, including fixed-income instruments, domestic and corporate bonds.

“It will start off as a national development fund in the first five to seven years. Once we generate excess funds, then we can go to the markets,” Consing told reporters.

According to Consing’s blueprint for the MIF, the government corporation would invest in four areas in the country: tourism infrastructure, energy security, digital infrastructure and agro-forestry industrial urbanism.

Tourism infrastructure will include airports and other big-ticket public-private infrastructure projects for which Maharlika can provide staple capital to support the winning proponent, as well as act as co-grantor to accelerate the process.

Energy security will focus on investments for the private sector, given the critical need to increase power capacity in the country on the back of rising demand brought about by the growing population.

On addressing the digital divide through digital infrastructure, Consing envisions that the state corporation will play a role in building telecom towers in rural areas that still do not have internet access or mobile phone signals.

In effect, Maharlika is filling a digital investment gap through the construction of these towers, which it can lease to telco operators.

Consing said this would open many doors for rural residents, such as farmers who can use the digital access for precision farming to improve their output, as well as other marginalized sectors.

The MIC chief is also keen on the fourth area, which he calls agro-forestry industrial urbanism.

The idea is to create mega ecozones, which would unlock the value of sprawling idle lands owned by different government agencies and more importantly, address the needs of investors to have more economic zones.

“What I intend to do is to aim for government land not being utilized and convert them into mega ecozones for FDI (foreign direct investments) to come in,” Consing said.

Around these mega zones are agriculture and forestry which would help farmers and put them together with processors and all parts of the ecosystem can work together.

According to the MIC chief, there are roughly two million hectares of land owned by the government that the corporation may look into.

One critical component of these mega ecozones is the utilization of renewable energy -- which would help locators capture European markets and other markets abroad that are big on embracing sustainability and green energy, Consing said.

Consing said all these plans are still subject to the approval of MIC’s board of directors, the members of which are expected to be announced soon by Malacanang.

Maharlika has an initial fund of P75 billion and eventually, it will go up to P125 billion. The government corporation will soon embark on a roadshow to entice investors to bet on the Philippines’ first ever sovereign wealth fund.

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