INVESTMENT PLANS. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday (May 31, 2023) meets with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation’s Board of Directors at the Study Room of Malacañan Palace in Manila. During the meeting, the JBIC told Marcos about its plan to invest in the Philippines for renewable energy projects. (Screenshot from Radio Television Malacañang)

MANILA – The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) has expressed interest for energy tie-ups in the Philippines and the Marcos administration's proposed Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF), Malacañang said Thursday.

JBIC's planned partnerships with Philippine firms for energy development and interest in the proposed MIF were raised during Marcos' meeting with the bank's Board of Directors led by Tadashi Maeda at Malacañan Palace in Manila on Wednesday.

Maeda pitched JBIC's plan to address the liquefied natural gas' (LNG) role as the Philippines' traditional source of power and tap other energy sources such as hydropower, solar and wind.

Maeda told Marcos that he had met with Private Sector Advisory Council lead convenor and Aboitiz Group chief executive officer Sabin Aboitiz to discuss JBIC's interest to sign a memorandum of understanding with several Philippine companies including Metro Pacific and San Miguel.

"We have the potential…between Japan and the Philippines to work together,” Maeda, as quoted by the Presidential Communications Office, said, adding that there is a need to identify specific projects to ensure the successful transition to more efficient energy and the development of new technology like hydrogen.

The JBIC is seeking investments in renewable energy projects to address the Philippines’ power supply needs, as well as mitigate the effects of climate change in the country, according to a statement posted on state-run Radio Television Malacañang's Facebook page.

The JBIC also had a separate meeting with Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman to discuss opportunities to accelerate sustainability efforts in the Philippines, in line with the bank's Environment, Social and Governance Policy which outlines its goal to contribute to global carbon neutrality through energy transition.

Maeda, in a meeting with Pangandaman, mentioned the JBIC's financing options, which include Green Finance and Social Impact Finance that helped countries fast-track their transition to renewable energy, create waste treatment systems, and establish countermeasures for marine plastic waste.

MIF approval

During the courtesy visit to Marcos, Maeda also congratulated the Philippine government for the Senate and the House of Representatives' approval of the MIF bill which seeks the creation of the proposed sovereign wealth fund.

Marcos said his administration is eyeing the establishment of the MIF to attract more investments.

“It’s so that we, the Philippines, can participate in what would be, what is regarded, of course, as an investment for us. It is a necessary infrastructure that we are investing in,” he said.

“So, that is the plan for the sovereign fund. We now have to go and look at the design or the structuring of the fund. But it is basically seen as our government participation in projects that, mostly, it will really be in the Philippines," Marcos added.

The proposed MIF is an independent fund that adheres to the principles of good governance, transparency and accountability and shall be sourced from the investible funds of select government financial institutions, from contributions of the national government, declared dividends of the BSP and other fund sources.

Under the scheme, the MIF shall be used to invest in strategic and commercial activities in a manner designed to promote fiscal stability for economic development and strengthen the top-performing GFIs through additional investment platforms that will help attain the national government’s priority plans.

Maeda said the JBIC wants to know more details about the Philippines' potential and targeted projects, including those in the pipeline, so it could make "more tangible, specific" proposals to upgrade the value of Tokyo and Manila's strategic cooperation.

The JBIC is a policy-based financial institution wholly-owned by the Japanese government that conducts lending, investment and guarantee operations. It is also a leading public financial institution in the international financial market.

The bank’s main operational principle is to supplement the financial transactions implemented by private financial institutions.

The JBIC has supported projects all over the world such as infrastructure, natural resources and renewable energy, with the primary mission of contributing to the sound development of Japan, the international economy and society. (PNA)