The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) had agreed to provide USD 500 million loan to part-finance the USD 15 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline project.
IsDB has expressed interest in financing the project not just on Turkmenistan's territory, but in Afghanistan and Pakistan, too. The TAPI pipeline will have a capacity to carry 90 million standard cubic metres a day gas for 30 years. The project had been planned to become operational in 2018, but it is unlikely to see the light of day before 2022. The four nations to the project in April this year had signed an investment agreement in Ashgabad. The technical study of the TAPI project, done by Penspen, has estimated that it will take over six years to complete from the start of the FEED process.
In #India Jammu and Kashmir Bank said it was ready to offer Islamic banking, if the Reserve Bank of India approved the move. The bank's newly-appointed chairman Parvez Ahmad said there was a strong demand for such banking service in Kashmir but RBI would need to examine the proposal. RBI has recently suggested to explore the modalities of introducing interest-free banking products in the country in consultation with the government.
In #India Jammu and Kashmir Bank is willing to offer Islamic banking to its customers. Chairman Parvez Ahmad said there was great demand for Islamic Banking in the state, so the bank would examine the proposal after taking the Reserve Bank on board. As far as the JK Bank positioning is concerned, it has 63% share on the asset side, 62% share on the deposit side, out of 862 branches, 745 are in the state, out of 1030 ATMs, 950 in JK state, 90% of the population is dealing with JK Bank. Ahmad added that other banks were only offering products and services, JK Bank was more concerned about the development of JK state as a whole.
India's central bank has proposed working with the government to introduce interest-free banking. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) made the proposal last week, as departing central bank governor Raghuram Rajan hands over the reins to Urjit Patel. Development of Islamic finance has been slow in India because of strong opposition from bureaucrats and politicians from the ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. An estimated 180 million Muslims have been unable to access Islamic banking because of laws that require banking to be based on interest. The RBI said it would explore introducing interest-free banking products in consultation with the government, a key detail as this opens the prospects of supportive legislation.
The leading Indian banks have the capacity to launch a South Asian Shariah Fund to capitalize the region's untapped market for Islamic finance which requires multi-billion dollars of financing annually. Indian banks are in a position to lead the Shariah fund for the region, given their global network which includes facilitating Islamic banking and financing in one way or another, observed Ariff Sultan, regional director for Asia Pacific at the US-based global Shariah compliance product screening group, IdealRatings. Sultan said IdealRatings has been approached by a number of Islamic Banking-linked investors to screen opportunities for placing their funds in the Indian market. But there are regulatory restrictions.
Freed of international sanctions, Iran has asked India to reactivate its accounts with Indian banks and allow Iranian banks to open offices here. Keen to quickly normalise banking and commercial relations with the world, Tehran also wants UCO BankBSE -3.50 % to open a representative office in Iran. Tehran has already opened an account with IDBI Bank. Central Bank of Iran's vice governor Gholamali Kamyab has conveyed to Indian authorities that Bank Pasargad and Parsian Bank were keen to open representative offices in India while Saman Bank was interested in opening a subsidiary, they said. State Bank of India (SBI) has accounts of 11 Iranian banks including Central Bank of Iran (CBI).
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he expected other state banks to establish Islamic banking units soon after state-run Ziraat launched an Islamic unit on Friday. Erdogan, speaking at the launch ceremony of Ziraat's new business, said he also expected Ziraat to set up an Islamic insurance unit.
The United Arab Emirates' bank industry association has discussed a proposal to create a centralised sharia board that would monitor Islamic banking. The central bank had proposed setting up a Higher Sharia Authority that would complement and oversee the work of sharia boards at individual Islamic banks. Details of the timing and structure of the new entity were not specified. The UAE Banks Federation, which represents 50 banks, also said on Sunday that it had approved the appointment of a new, independent monitoring agency that would help to implement its code of conduct for member institutions. It did not give details.
Saudi Arabia-based investment bank Sidra Capital is changing its Islamic trade finance fund, initially established as closed-ended, to an open-ended format as it sees growing appetite from regional investors in the Gulf, its chief executive Hani Baothman said. The first tranche of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) investors came with $50 million, and the firm expects more and more interest to come through. The fund, launched in 2012 with an initial $15 million in assets, has received approval from the Luxembourg regulator to become open-ended and it expects the Saudi regulator's approval as early as April, Baothman said.
The private sector arm of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank plans to tap Islamic capital markets to raise as much as $1.2 billion in long-term funds during its current financial year, its chief executive Khaled Al-Aboodi said. The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) will also explore a capital increase as it expands its economic development activities, with a proposal to be presented to shareholders in June 2015. Fitch Ratings has assigned an AA credit rating to the ICD, which has a low level of leverage but which is expected to grow as the institution increases its lending activities. The ICD will consider both syndicated Islamic loans as well as issuance of sukuk, or Islamic bonds, Al-Aboodi added.
D. Subbarao, governer of RBI, explains that because of legal issues, Islamic banking will not be possible in Kerala. This is the only state in the country which has been striving for introduction of Islamic banking. RBI has already addressed Indian government on the matter pointing out the necessary amendments. Subbarao further suggests that the restriction on Islamic banking could have a work-around through other models instead of banking. These have been proposed to the government of Kerala.
The finance ministry is considering a new category of non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) that will offer Islamic banking products in India.
With the global financial crisis putting the spotlight on "casino capitalism" of the West, leading scholars and experts from the Arab world on Thursday pitched for interest-free Islamic banking as a solution and its introduction in India, home to the world's largest Muslim minority.