SEC readies new rules to lure ESG-focused funds
MANILA -The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is crafting new guidelines aimed at enhancing the country’s corporate sustainability framework in a bid to to boost the Philippine capital markets.
SEC commissioner Kelvin Lester Lee, who oversees markets and securities regulation, said ongoing projects include the Philippine taxonomy for sustainable finance, which could be finalized and ready for implementation in the latter part of 2024.
Lee, who is also part of the Asean Taxonomy Board, said the goal was to come out with a set of guidelines and definitions that could help unlock billions of pesos in new sustainable and social investments.
“There’s a lot of money out there in relation to climate finance, sustainable finance. They are looking for places to invest,” he told the Inquirer.
“Once we come out with this there will be a framework that private sector issuers will be able to follow,” he added.
Lee said another upcoming project was the issuance of the so-called Blue Bonds framework for sustainable water projects.
This would complement earlier-issued guidelines for sustainably-linked bonds and social bonds.
In fact, the latter framework was recently utilized by ASA Philippines Foundation, a leading nongovernment microfinance organization, when it made history by issuing the country’s first gender-themed bonds.
ASA Philippines, in early July, raised P5 billion from the bond offer, with proceeds to be deployed for loans to qualified women micro-entrepreneurs.
Lee, who also oversees the SEC’s information and communications technology department, said he was also working to finalize new rules for short selling and regulations for cryptocurrencies, digital assets and the exchanges where these are traded.
“I came from the private sector before [government service] so I’m aware of the need for us to keep up and and be viable compared to other countries,” he said.