President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has invited Arab businesses to invest in the Philippines and be part of the country’s development, saying investments in key sectors will ensure higher growth.

President Marcos arrived in Saudi Arabia on Thursday afternoon to attend the first Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Gulf Cooperation Council (ASEAN-GCC) Summit, hold bilateral meetings with Arab leaders and meet Filipino workers in the Kingdom.

“We hope to see all of you visit the Philippines, to see what the opportunities are and for us as well for our part in the Philippines to bring our teams to the Kingdom and further we already have a very strong and very long-standing people-to-people relationship which can serve as a very good foundation for any future endeavors between our two countries,” President Marcos said during a roundtable Thursday with Saudi Ministry of Investment (MISA) and select Saudi businesses at the St. Regis Riyadh.

“However, we should not limit ourselves alone to the labor market. We should also explore the new businesses that have come up since the end of the pandemic economy and that is the area where I think that the GCC and ASEAN will find as a fertile ground for future investment, and also for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of the Philippines to further strengthen the ties.”

This partnership will not only cover trade but other areas such as telecommunication, healthcare, energy, and even agriculture, he noted, adding that the central tenet of the government plans for Philippine development is by forging tie ups with private sector.

The President recognized that while the government is good at many things, there are other areas that the private sector does better.

“And with that partnership, we can look forward to further growth, further strengthening of our relationships, and a better future for both our countries.”

In a presentation during a roundtable with Saudi businesses, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said that among the Marcos administration’s thrust is to attract direct equity investment from local and global funds, carry out co-financing and knowledge-sharing with other sovereign wealth funds, accelerate the implementation of the 197 infrastructure flagship projects, and invest in emerging megatrends (digitalization, ESG, and healthcare).

The 197 infrastructure flagship projects worth around US$153 billion include those in water resources, US$14.6 billion; digital connectivity, US$1.7 billion; agriculture, US$11.2 billion; physical connectivity, US$122.5 billion; health, US$2.3 billion; power and energy, US$180 million; and other infrastructures, US$750 million.

According to Diokno, the appropriate and realistic fund sources include Maharlika Investment Corp.’s US$8.8 billion authorized capital stock composed of US$6.6 billion common shares and US$2.2 billion preferred shares.

He assured businesses of transparency and accountability through financial reporting and audit measures, noting that hvthe fund will be compliant with relevant international financial reporting standards and principles.

There will also be three audit layers: Internal and external auditor, and the state’s Commission on Audit (COA).

A Joint Congressional Oversight Committee will also evaluate the implementation of the Maharlika Investment Act, he said. |PND

Photo Courtesy of PCO