MANILA – Malaysian investors have expressed interest in the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF), the Philippines’ first-ever sovereign wealth fund, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said Thursday.
He, however, noted that Malaysian investors are “the most careful of all” and want to know the specifics of the business before making any investment.
“Yes, lahat. Lahat naman nag-express ng interest because negosyo ‘yan (all of them have expressed interest because that is business),” Marcos told reporters during the final day of the state visit when asked if Malaysian businessmen are interested to invest in the MIF.
The MIF is designed to catalyze economic development by mobilizing government financial assets.
“You have to be specific. Once we get to that point, then we can talk about the amounts that are going to be invested both by the fund and, of course, by our private sector partners,” he said.
He assured that the MIF would not experience the same problem encountered by the 1 Malaysian Development Berhad (1MDB).
He was referring to Malaysia’s state investment fund that was set up in 2009 but was mired in controversy because of missing funds.
“As long as you can assure them that what their poor experience was here, the terrible things that happened here, hindi mangyayari sa fund natin (it would not happen to our fund),” Marcos said.
The MIF will be “run professionally and without undue political influence” and financial managers will make the daily decisions on investments, he added.
100K new job opportunities
Meanwhile, Marcos said he is expecting the creation of more than 100,000 jobs for Filipinos after his state visit reaped USD285 million in investment pledges.
On his last day in Malaysia, Marcos held a meeting with the Malaysian business community in Kuala Lumpur.
“We don’t have a number as yet because we – kakapirma lang (the agreements have been signed just now). We will have to make the assessments. But I’m talking at the very least tens of thousands if not over, more than 100,000 jobs here,” he said.
Marcos said Malaysian business leaders have expressed their intent to invest in the food processing industry, multi-service digital platforms, aviation and aviation maintenance support services in the Philippines.
They are also keen on investing in the logistics, manufacturing, infrastructure, water and wastewater treatment facilities in the country, he said.
The investment commitments, he said, would open new job opportunities, especially during the construction and operational phases of the planned projects.
“The downstream, upstream and downstream jobs will also increase and will maintain that job employment rate. So, when we start talking, when we start getting down to the details of the project, we can give you a better number in terms of jobs created,” Marcos said.
The three-day state visit also hastened the finalization of the collaboration agreement between Metro Pacific Investment Corp. (MPIC) and Malaysia’s Hartasuma Sdn. Bhd. that could reach up to PHP3 billion in rail-oriented projects in the Philippines, according to a news release by the Presidential Communications Office.
Marcos said the rail project between Manuel V. Pangilinan’s MPIC and Hartasuma showed the commitment of the two countries to continue improving physical connectivity such as roads, rails and other forms of transportation.
“So, this is another part of that effort,” Marcos said, referring to the common goal of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, particularly the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area.
Under the collaboration agreement, “the parties have expressed their desire to engage in railway engineering and maintenance, and other rail-oriented projects in the Philippines in line with the government’s aspiration to modernize the Philippines’ railway network.”
The agreement seeks to provide a framework for the cooperation between MPIC and Hartasuma, with both parties working together to identify potential joint development and joint venture collaboration.
MPIC is a publicly-listed investment management holding company with investments in various infrastructure and other projects in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, including power, toll roads, water, healthcare, agriculture, real estate and rail.
Hartasuma, on the other hand, is a pioneer in the Malaysian rail industry, providing a range of services, including engineering, assembly, refurbishment and rehabilitation of rolling stock and other urban transport solutions, including cable systems. (PNA)