The UN appointed Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty in the Gulf has concluded his mission on 19th January. In his report Dr. Mohamed Ramady highlights that poverty encompasses non-financial targets that encompasses women’s right to work and move freely, inhibiting factors that lead to family poverty. It is meaningless to adopt an absolute line given a large variance in GCC GDP per capita, ranging from around $ 25,000 in Saudi Arabia to $ 95,000 in Qatar. National poverty line figures accordingly vary from $ 1,300 per month to $ 5,000 levels. Cash payment handouts to reduce subsidies to balance national budgets are short-term measures. The key to poverty eradication is education, access to work and removal of social restrictions. To varying degrees, all the Gulf countries have given emphasis to ensuring more female work and civil and political participation. The UN Report also highlighted an uneven corporate social responsibility to carry out effective training and offer more opportunities for female workers and handicapped employees.
Summit will explore intersection of #fintech, #ESG and #Islamicfinance. #RFISummit17
January 24, 2017, Zurich, Switzerland –
Bringing together a diversity of perspectives is critical for continuing the growth occurring within responsible finance. On this premise, the Responsible Finance & Investment Summit 2017 will convene in Zurich, Switzerland from 3-4 May 2017 around the theme “Building Bridges, Expanding Impact”.
Recent estimates from industry stakeholders show continued growth in responsible finance assets in many geographies and sectors. Responsible investment in Europe grew by 42% during the past 2 years, while in the U.S., assets grew by 33%. In Islamic finance, which has a global presence with a significant presence in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, growth in the last 2 years has been 21%. Identifying actionable areas for collaboration will support continued growth towards a more sustainable financial system.
Bank Islam's managing director Datuk Seri Zukri Samat said he would not extend his contract when his tenure ends in June this year. When asked on his successor, Zukri said there was still plenty of time to search for a successor since it was only January. On Bank Islam Visa Infinite MPN credit card-i, he said it was introduced in response to Bank Negara’s call for a cashless society. He said the collaboration with MPN was the bank’s continuous cooperation with the academic institutions starting with the introduction of the UniDebit card in 2012. Meanwhile, MPN chairman Professor Tan Sri Zakri Abu Hamid welcomed the strategic cooperation to strengthen the corporate image of both parties.
Banks in Iran have made progress since the signing of the nuclear deal, yet many obstacles to doing business internationally remain. The deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was meant to free up Iran’s economy and banking sector by lifting the sanctions imposed on the country in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear programme. Under the nuclear sanctions, the US fined several big banks for dealing with sanctioned countries. For that reason, many large international banks fear being fined again if they re-engage with the country, even though they are now allowed to do so under the terms of the JCPOA. So far, only small banks have been willing to re-engage with Iran.
The Brookings Institution published its new study entitled "Change of pace: Accelerations and advances during the Millennium Development Goal era". The paper examines which trajectories changed, for better or worse between 2000 and 2015. The three key findings of the study are the following: firstly, at least 21 million extra lives were saved due to accelerated progress. During the 2000s there were major accelerations in rates of progress. Secondly, acceleration varied considerably across issues and geographies. Positive changes were concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and low-income countries, as classified by the World Bank in 2000. Thirdly, low-income country acceleration versus middle-income country gains shows a major difference in trends among low-income countries (LICs) versus middle-income countries (MICs). LICs indicated more acceleration but smaller relative gains, while MICs tended to see larger relative gains but less acceleration.
The girl called Jeevti was just 14 when she taken from her family in the night to be married off to a man who says her family owed him $1,000. Her mother, Ameri Kashi Kohli, is sure that her daughter paid the price for a never-ending debt. Ameri says she and her husband borrowed roughly $500 when they first began to work on the land, but she throws up her hands and says the debt was repaid.
It's a familiar story here in southern Pakistan: Small loans balloon into impossible debts, bills multiply, payments are never deducted. In this world, women like Ameri and her young daughter are treated as property: taken as payment for a debt, to settle disputes, or as revenge if a landowner wants to punish his worker. Sometimes parents, burdened by an unforgiving debt, even offer their daughters as payment. The women are like trophies to the men. They choose the prettiest, the young and pliable. Sometimes they take them as second wives to look after their homes. Sometimes they use them as prostitutes to earn money. Sometimes they take them simply because they can.
The #Singapore Kilobar Gold Contract of Singapore Exchange (SGX) has become the world's first Shariah-compliant gold futures contract. SGX said this endorsement by Islamic scholars on its physically settled futures contract unlocks a new investment and risk management option. The Singapore Kilobar Gold Contract seeks to serve as a transparent and centralised Asian price-discovery platform for the gold market. William Chin, head of metals and bulk commodities at SGX, said the move strengthens Singapore's position as an international centre for Islamic finance. Albert Cheng, CEO of the Singapore Bullion Market Association, said the Shariah-compliant SGX contract will be attractive to new customers in the region, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia.
Global Islamic finance players should develop data analytics ability in the Waqf, high-net worth individuals, stocks and infrastructure sectors. Data anlaytics would help them to capture the additional US$1 trillion market which will be available over the next 12 to 18 months. The survey entitled 'Banking in Emerging Market, Gulf Cooperation Council FinTech Play 2017' was launched at the three-day World Islamic Bank Conference (WIBC) 2016. The study found that between 60 and 70% of the participants believed fintech innovations offer end customers a noticeably better value proposition in terms of ease of use, cost, speed of service and integration with social media. Ernst and Young's Global Islamic Banking Sector Partner, Ashar M. Nazim said proper adoption of fintech technology by the global Islamic finance players would potentially increase the industry’s customer base to 250 million by 2020 from 100 million at present.
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.
The latest #Saudi Arabian survey conducted by Riyali Financial Literacy Program shows that more than 86% of the respondents have suffered from some form of financial distress. This high percentage sheds light on the importance of spreading financial awareness to manage a stable financial life. The survey also showed that most of the commitments that the participants failed to fulfill were finance installments (44%), followed by borrowing from friends and family (34%), and then credit card payments (22%). In addition to that, the survey highlighted another noticeable problem, which is the high debt burden ratio where monthly installments of 42% of the participants exceeded 60% of their monthly salary. In this regard, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) has set the limit at 33% for the monthly debt burden that a customer can afford, to be able to successfully pay off debts.
Istanbul's Sabahattin Zaim University established the International Research Center for Islamic Economics and Finance (IRCIEF) in order to produce relevant research to guide policy design and implementations. It also organizes workshops and training programs to provide society with opportunities toward a better understanding of Islamic economics. According to IRCIEF director Prof. Dr. Arif Ersoy, the center will also intensify its research activities on finding new solutions for the problems encountered by SMEs, who are the main consumers of Islamic banks. IRCIEF offers graduate studies on Islamic Economics and Finance, furthermore post graduate studies on Islamic Economics and Law in Arabic. For next year the center is planning to open the programs in English as well.
Many Muslims contacted me in the last years with one single repeating question: Are CFD and/or Binary Options halal meaning permissible in Islam? There are indeed forex brokers offering so called Islamic accounts avoiding outright interest. But still: A contract of difference does not involve the ownership of any underlying (currency, stocks etc.) hence money against money is exchanged in different amounts - this is the most simple test for the prohibited Riba. Any Muslim receiving such offers should therefore insist of receiving the Fatwa and if not provided leave out.
The intention on those trading activities everyone can ask himself; mostly it will be akin to gambling and this on top of the fact that the trading activity itself is a zero sum game; meaning what one wins another looses, which rules out again to participate in such business. It does not do any better that aside from luck the outcome is influenced by know how - the same is true for classical money games as Poker or Backgammon. Still nobody would classify Poker therefore as halal.
The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) has issued its Exposure Draft of Guiding Principles On Disclosure Requirements for Islamic Capital Market Products (ED-19) for Public Consultation running from 31 October 2016 to 31 December 2016. ED-19 categorises a set of general principles that are common to the disclosure of both Sukuk and Islamic Collective Investment Schemes (ICIS), as well as specific principles applicable to each sector. The ED outlines disclosure requirements for Sukuk and ICIS, covering the main stages of disclosure and point-of-sale disclosure. The IFSB will organise a Roundtable on Disclosure Requirements on 30 November 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and a Public Hearing on ED-19 on 13 December 2016 in Cairo, Egypt. ED-19 will be revised based on the written and oral feedback received during the public consultation process and is planned to be submitted for final approval of the IFSB Council in April 2017.
According to #Indonesian Economic Coordinating Minister Darmin Nasution, the development of the country’s sharia finance industry will increase female participation in the economy. He said Indonesian fashion and halal cosmetics were among the well-performing industries and most businesspeople in the two industries were women. Indonesia is one of the top five Islamic fashion industries in the world, with a total spending of US$12.7 billion annually. It is also in the world's top five regarding the sharia cosmetics/pharmaceutical industry with an average spending of $4.8 billion per year, according to data from Bank Indonesia (BI). BI deputy governor Hendar said inspite of the global slowdown, Indonesia's sharia industry was still giving positive signals.
Deputy Prime minister in Charge of the Economy Mehmet Simsek said the size of the Islamic banking sector globally was projected to grow to $3.5 trillion in the next five years and Turkey aimed to manage a sizeable portion of this huge sector. He said the government was committed to help the sector thrive in Turkey. Furthermore, he indicated that the total size of assets of participation banks reached $183.93 billion by the end of 2015. Pointing out that the participation banks' share in the overall banking sector was 5.1%, he stressed the goal set by the representative of the sector was to attain 15% by 2025. The Turkish Treasury elaborated on the action plan called "Strengthening Interest-free Finance and Participation Banking" as a component of the Istanbul International Financial Center (IFC Istanbul) program. It was decided that the board would work on the issues raised at the meeting to develop the interest-free finance sector.
S&P Global Ratings may not be ready to upgrade Indonesia’s credit rating from junk, concerned by rising bad debts and risks to the growth outlook. Indonesia failed in June to win an upgrade from S&P, which rates the nation’s debt at BB+ with a positive outlook. S&P said at the time that while the country’s fiscal framework had improved, it still faced challenges on its budget performance. Josua Pardede, an economist at PT Bank Permata in Jakarta, said Indonesia still faces fiscal risks. He estimated the tax shortfall for this year will be more than 200 trillion rupiah ($15 billion), causing the budget deficit to widen to around 2.7% of gross domestic product. The government has a deficit cap of 3% of GDP. The ratings company will meet with Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati within the next few weeks before it makes its next assessment due in December. S&P is the last of the three main credit-rating companies to keep Indonesia on junk status.
The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev met with the President of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Dr. Bandar Hajjar, on an official visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. President Nazarbayev praised the cooperation between IsDB and his country and congratulated Dr. Hajjar on his recent assumption of duties as the new IsDB Group President. President Nazarbayev plans to launch the program 100 Steps, which is designed to introduce structural and economic reforms to Kazakhstan. The program also envisages the launching of Astana International Financial Center as a center of excellence for financial services at regional and global level. President Nazarbayev called on IsDB to provide technical support in the fields of development and Islamic finance. Dr. Hajjar assured that the IsDB Group would provide the required technical assistance to support President Nazarbayev’s initiatives.
The Church of Scotland and Islamic Finance Council UK are meeting at a private round table in the British Parliament. As part of the interfaith initiative for a more socially responsible financial system, faith leaders, parliamentarians and finance practitioners gather to agree a shared values framework. The joint venture was launched earlier this year in response to the systemic failure and non-sustainability of the current financial model. The event is the second in a series of three workshops. The first reviewed the theological and philosophical underpinnings of Christianity and Islam in order to identify commonalities. At the second workshop the shared values framework will be reviewed and refined before participants explore the practical obstacles to realising ethical finance. Omar Shaikh of the Islamic Finance Council UK said that bringing the debate to the heart of London sends a strong international message that faith communities can work together for the greater good of society.
The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) launched its annual Survey on the Implementation of IFSB Standards. The Survey is directed to the member regulatory and supervisory authorities (RSAs) to assess their progress in implementing the IFSB Standards. According to Jaseem Ahmed, Secretary-General of the IFSB, the Survey is useful in providing feedback on the progress and major constrains faced by the authorities. In 2015 a total of 39 RSAs from 27 countries responded and overall 18 RSAs have implemented at least one IFSB standard. In the banking sector, nine RSAs have already implemented more than 50% of the standards. The results of the Implementation Survey 2016 are planned to be presented to the IFSB Technical Committee and Council in early 2017.
Members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) are asking 17 American drug companies to be more transparent about when and why they raise prices. The investors say rising costs are putting prescription drugs out of reach for many patients. The ICCR hopes the proposals are listed in company proxy statements and put to shareholder votes at annual meetings in spring 2017. Some state legislatures have already introduced bills requiring companies to justify price increases. ICCR member Catherine Rowan hopes they get enough votes to prod companies to adopt pricing-transparency policies. She added that congressional committees have called some pharmaceutical chief executives to testify and the legislative pressures are going to persist.