The Financial Services Authority (OJK) is considering providing a legal basis for Islamic real estate investment trustees (REITs), hoping that it will attract more property investors, especially from the Middle East. OJK deputy director of sharia market Muhammad Touriq said Takaful companies are interested in investing in the REITs, but have failed to do so as the existing REITs are not sharia-compliant. The Indonesian government is working on an incentive for the Islamic REITs that allows investors to pay only 0.5% income tax. So far 11 developers have expressed their interest including Ciputra, Summarecon and Ciptadana Asset Management.
Authorities in #Switzerland and #Singapore took action against Swiss private bank BSI for failing to prevent money laundering and bribery related to its dealings with Malaysian development fund 1MDB. Switzerland's Attorney General opened criminal proceedings against the bank. The country's Financial Market Supervisory Authority ordered BSI to pay back 95 mn Swiss franks Swiss Bank Is Charged Over ($96 mn). Singapore’s central bank revoked BSI’s banking license there and fined it 13.3 mn Singapore dollars ($9.7 mn). The cross-border investigation related to 1MDB involves at least seven countries.
#Malaysia could find fame for triggering a new, more effective level of regulatory cooperation between the financial centres of the world. This can be the positive result from landing at the centre of the world’s biggest money-laundering investigation. Investigators are working closely to trace the US$7 bn gone missing from the 1MDB fund into a network of off-shore companies before emerging once again in the bank accounts of politically connected Malaysians. Meanwhile, the Government of Malaysia is continuing to act as if nothing has happened. Prime Minister Najib has been impeding investigations at home, but worldwide he is a smaller player. His political connections cannot save him from the independent justice departments of the various financial centres involved.
In Indonesia communities are embracing 'trash banking' as a way of allowing their poorest citizens access to savings and credit. In Makassar on the island of Sulawesi the city of 2.5 million people produces 800 tons of rubbish each day. It ends up at the five-story high landfill, where scavengers work alongside cows foraging for food. Here residents bring recyclable trash such as plastic bottles, paper and packaging to the collection points, known as banks, where the rubbish is weighed and given a monetary value. Like a regular bank, customers are able to open accounts, make deposits and periodically withdraw funds. At other trash banks in the country, account holders can exchange their rubbish directly for rice, phone cards or paying their electricity bills. The local authorities in Makassar are supported by a local non-governmental organization that receives funding from PT Unilever Indonesia.
Sultan Nazrin Shah will lead a special session on Islamic Social Finance at the United Nation’s inaugural World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in Istanbul. The summit is calling for a 'Grand Bargain' on finance and aid organisations will be told to stop competing for resources. The UN fell short of US$7.5bil (RM30.6bil) in funding needs last year, 30% of what it required. IDB’s research on zakat in 2015 shows an estimated US$600bil (RM2.4 trillion) available to meet humanitarian needs. If 1% of this is made available, it can meet the global funding deficit for 2015.
The recovery of the sukuk market is expected to continue as the threat of a steep increase in US interest rates is quickly diminishing. Based on the view of lower interest rates for a longer period, CEO of Maybank Islamic Asset Management, Ahmad Najib Nazlan has a cautiously optimistic outlook on the sukuk market. Following a renewed positive sentiment, Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority (OJK) recently called on state-owned firms to issue more Islamic bonds. In Malaysia the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) is also calling on the government to increase the supply of ringgit sukuk as it gears up for the launch of its shariah-compliant option for contributors in January 2017.
The fates of 1MDB bonds are diverging this month: those guaranteed by Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund have rallied, while notes with support from Malaysia’s own government have dropped. 1MDB's 4.4% 2023 notes, backed by the government, slumped 6.4% in May, set for the worst slide in 16 months. The fund’s 5.99% 2022 bonds, backed by Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment gained 1.9%. The contrast reflects growing investor concern about the Malaysian government backing as Najib grapples with an economy forecast to expand at the slowest pace in seven years amid a collapse in oil prices.
The Indonesian Economist Association (ISEI) and the Indonesia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) have drafted a new scheme to improve the income of 1 mn farmers in various commodity industries by 2020. PISAgro, which stands for Partnership for Indonesia's Sustainable Agriculture, aims to reach more than 445,000 farmers in 2016. ISEI chairman Muliaman Hadad said farmers were currently experiencing stagnant productivity from inadequate access to finance, as well as good quality seeds and fertilizers. Kadin chairman Rosan Roeslani said the program would give support in plantation infrastructure, provision of seeds and fertilizers, mentoring and the strict implementation of good farming practices.
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RAM Ratings has assigned an A3/Stable rating to Bank Muamalat Malaysia's proposed Up to MYR 1 billion Subordinated Sukuk Murabahahh Programme. The proposed Sukuk is Basel III-compliant and will qualify as tier-2 capital. The bank aims to continue concentrating on personal and corporate financing this year while de-emphasising its home-financing portfolio, given the competitive mortgage segment. Bank Muamalat has made significant strides in cost savings, which had contributed to higher y-o-y pre-tax profits in 9M FY Mar 2016. Profitability, however, remains weak compared to peers.
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has committed US$5.2 billion worth of loans until 2020 to aid Indonesia’s priority development projects. Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said the prioritized sectors include energy, transportation, urban development, higher education and skills development, private sector development and Islamic financial broadening. The IDB will work with other lenders, including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Going forward, the IDB will prioritize efforts to shift away from dependency on commodities.
Nazir Razak, the brother of Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, has been cleared of any wrongdoing by an independent investigation undertaken by CIMB Group. Nazir voluntarily took a leave of absence to allow an independent review to be carried out after it was revealed that he had transferred cash to the ruling coalition's politicians in the run-up to the Malaysian general elections in 2013. Although he admitted to transferring the money, Nazir insisted he did nothing illegal. Nazir has now resumed his role as CIMB Group chairman and CIMB Bank director.
Arian Ardie talks about the burgeoning Indonesian economy, foreign investment opportunities, and how Indonesian companies are coming to terms with anti-corruption compliance. Meeting cultural norms and being compliant with international business practices is a real challenge in Indonesia. As one of the most populous countries in the world, Indonesia shows an inherent 'sloppiness' of implementing decentralization and democracy.
Malaysia’s biggest pension fund is calling on the government to increase the supply of ringgit Islamic bonds as the manager of $170 bn starts a Shariah-compliant option for savers. The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) prepares to launch the Islamic plan with an initial 100 bn ringgit ($25 bn) in January. Currently the Shariah-compliant share of issuance is 42%. CEO Shahril Ridza Ridzuan said the government is actively looking at it. Boosting sales would help expand the range of maturities of the securities and their investor base. Overseas investors owned 19 bn ringgit of the government’s Islamic bonds in April, 8.2% of their total note holdings in the nation.
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group hosted the IDB Group Private Sector Forum in Indonesia. The event was held in conjunction with Group's 41st Annual General Meeting. The forum involved panel discussions which deliberated on the activities, roles and support that have been carried out in member countries, with focus on Indonesia. The panel also touched on issues related to Islamic trade financing, investment challenges and export credit insurance. All private sector entities are open to coordinate with investors who are willing to invest in Indonesia as well as other member countries of the IDB Group.
Sri Lanka could issue Sukuk and take the lead in becoming a regional centre for Islamic financial services. Bar Association President Shibly Aziz said this can open Sri Lanka to a new niche of investors, rather than the conventional ones. Sri Lanka already has more than twenty years experience in Islamic finance with an approved Islamic bank in operations.
Indonesia has become one of the leading sukuk issuers in the world, with issuance totaling Rp 503 trillion (US$38 bn) since its debut in 2008. Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said total outstanding sukuk was at Rp 380 trillion ($29 bn), which accounts for 15% of total government securities. He added that the latest dollar sukuk, issued in March, received a very good response from investors. For the $2.5 bn issuance, total subscription reached $8.6 bn or around 3.5 times.
A venture capital fund based on Islamic finance principles will be initiated by the end of May. It is the result of a joint initiative of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and Malaysia’s state-owned investment firm Malaysia Venture Capital Management. According to Treasury secretary Irwan Serigar Abdullah the initial fund size would be $100mn and could be bulked up later. In the first stages, the venture capital fund would be utilised to finance startup companies in Malaysia and the entire Southeast Asia region and could later be extended to finance entrepreneurial initiatives in other Islamic countries.
Guyana officially became the 57th member of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) during the opening ceremony of the bank’s annual meeting in Jakarta. According to the finance ministry press release, this membership allows Guyana access to concessionary resources, grants and interest free loans. Finance minister of Guyana, Winston Jordan, is making his debut appearance in Jakarta personally to witness Guyana’s initiation into the group. Suriname, which is also a member of the Islamic Bank, is represented by its Finance Minister Gilmore Hoefdraad and Deputy Governor, Dr Anwar Lall Mohamed. The private sector is expanding economic ties between Indonesia and Suriname and, with the support of the Islamic Bank, rhetoric is becoming reality.
The seminar 'The Transformation of the Islamic Finance Industry in Indonesia' was held by the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) in collaboration with Financial Services Authority (OJK). President Joko Widodo’s has repeatedly called for the revival of growth in Indonesia’s Islamic finance industry, which is currently being hindered by fragmented regulations. Through this seminar, ICD and OJK aimed to impart the know-how related to the implementation of Shari’ah standards.