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#Indonesia’s national Islamic economy committee budget slashed, plans suspended as gov't focuses on COVID-19

Indonesia’s National Sharia Economy and Finance Committee (KNEKS) will suspend non-urgent programs this year after its budget was slashed by a third as the government allocates resources to fight COVID-19. The committee will conduct a series of webinars focused on the impact of COVID-19 on the Islamic economy. KNEKS will also engage Indonesians to participate more in Islamic social finance by promoting Shariah-compliant fintechs such as LinkAja Syariah. Indonesia’s government has set aside 405.1 trillion rupiah ($24.65 billion) out of the state budget as a support and stimulus package to help the economy. It has re-allocated and re-focused 95.5 trillion rupiah from ministries and other government institutions as part of efforts to fund the package.

Covid-19: World faces 'biblical' famines from pandemic, warns UN food agency chief

The head of the UN food agency warned that besides the coronavirus pandemic the world is on the brink of a hunger pandemic that could lead to multiple famines of biblical proportions within a few months if immediate action isn't taken. World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley said that WFP is providing food to nearly 100 million people on any given day. According to WFP, the 10 countries with the worst food crises in 2019 were Yemen, Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, Sudan, Nigeria and Haiti. Beasley raised the prospect of a hunger pandemic because there is also a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of Covid-19 than from the virus itself. Lockdowns and economic recession are expected to lead to major income losses for the working poor.

Arabic Collections Online

Arabic Collections Online (ACO) is a publicly available digital library of public domain Arabic language content. ACO currently provides digital access to 13,224 volumes across 7,842 subjects drawn from rich Arabic collections of distinguished research libraries. As reported recently, Arabic Collections Online usage jumped 700% in March due to closures of libraries around the world.

NMC board, management should be held accountable: Al Ghurair

According to Abdulaziz Al Ghurair, chairman of the UAE Banks Federation, the board and management of NMC Healthcare should be held accountable for the financial irregularities. It is estimated that more than 80 local, regional and international banks have exposure to healthcare firm. The UAE banks last week announced nearly Dh10 billion exposure to NMC Healthcare. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank has the highest exposure to NMC at Dh3 billion. Dubai Islamic Bank and its subsidiary Noor Bank announced Dh2 billion exposure while Emirates NBD and Emirates Islamic Bank disclosed Dh747.34 million exposure. NMC recently revised its debt position to $6.6 billion, well above earlier estimates. London's High Court last week placed hospital operator NMC Health into administration, on the application of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

World Health Organization thanks Saudi Arabia for contributing $500 million to combat Coronavirus

The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Tedros Adhanom thanked Saudi Arabia for donating 500 million dollars to support the international efforts in combating and preventing the spread of novel Coronavirus (Covid-19). Saudi Arabia will allocate 150 million dollars to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation, 150 million dollars to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations and 200 million dollars to the other international and regional health organizations and programs. The novel Coronavirus has killed more than 150,000 people worldwide and infected over 2.2 million people in 193 countries and territories.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank Completes Trade Finance Distribution Transaction Using Blockchain

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) has successfully completed a secondary market transaction using TradeAssets, a blockchain-powered trade finance e-marketplace. TradeAssets developed its blockchain-powered trade finance platform with an initial focus on secondary market transactions. In 2019, the company launched the platform with 25 banks, most of them in emerging markets such as Bangladesh. Currently, the platform has over 150 members with many of them being from the Middle East.

Alvarez & Marsal administrators to ailing NMC healthcare group

Richard Fleming, Mark Firmin and Ben Cairns of Alvarez & Marsal Europe have been appointed joint administrators of Abu Dhabi-based NMC Health. In February the company uncovered $335m (£258m) in previously undisclosed loans to related parties, and a further investigation by PwC unearthed over $2.7bn (£2bn) in undisclosed debt. The administrators have replaced the NMC board, stating that an immediate priority is to implement corporate governance changes in the group. In February, the Financial Conduct Authority launched an investigation into NMC's activities after the company's shares were suspended from trading on the London Stock Exchange.

Ayman Amin Sejiny, CEO at Islamic Development Bank Group

Ayman Amin Sejiny has been the chief executive officer of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) since October 2018. The ICD is the private sector arm of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank Group. Recently, ICD announced a rapid response initiative to combat the repercussions of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by allocating $250 million in emergency funding. ICD will aid the private health care industries of affected member countries. ICD will also work closely with more than 100 local and regional financial institutions so that they can continue to finance small- and medium-sized enterprises.

ADCB to lead NMC Health lenders group formed to hold talks on $6.6bn debt

NMC Health's biggest creditors have set up a coordinating committee, taking a major step toward restructuring the $6.6 billion debt of the hospital operator. The company asked Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) to chair a coordinating committee of debtholders. Deloitte and Clifford Chance have been appointed to advise the committee while Lazard will work with its chair. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Barclays and Standard Chartered will join Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank to form an initial steering group that will lead talks with NMC. NMC is being run by administrators Alvarez & Marsal after succumbing to creditor demands. NMC Health was suspended in February amid allegations of fraud. It has revealed more than $4 billion of undisclosed borrowings, pushing its total debt to $6.6 billion.

Administrators of NMC Health Revamp Company's Board

The administrators of troubled hospital operator NMC Health have announced a new board of directors. Previous board members, including executive chairman Faisal Belhoul have been removed. The move came after London's High Court on Thursday placed NMC Health into administration, on the application of one of its biggest lenders, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB). Michael Brenden Davis remains as interim chief executive officer and chief operating officer, but does not sit on the company's board.

Is this stock halal? Islamic finance charts high-tech future

The Zoya mobile application screens US-listed stocks based on criteria issued by the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions. US-based Wahed Invest also uses those criteria to help tens of thousands of people invest "ethically". Islamic bankers are hoping that modern platforms will open the industry up to young investors, and that its innately ethical credentials will prove to be another draw. According to Mohammed al-Sehli, CEO of Wethaq Capital, the emphasis has been on growing the market rather than making it more efficient. The sector must focus more on innovation after suffering from lack of innovation, standardisation and automation of processes.

NMC Health set for administration as negotiation attempts with creditors fail

Abu Dhabi's biggest healthcare company is heading for administration as the company revealed it had been unable to secure an agreement on its debt. NMC Health has made a series of damaging disclosures in the past few months after a report by activist investor Muddy Waters in December alleged it inflated cash balances, overpaid for assets and understated its debt. Following the disclosures, chairmen and executives departed from the firm. According to a disclosure from Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), NMC Health owes money to more than 80 local, regional and international lenders. ADCB said it expects joint administrators to launch a full, transparent and independent investigation into the company's affairs and the misrepresentation of its finances.

COVID-19 and Islamic Law Roundup (4/4)

Countries and communities around the world are working to contain COVID-19 and mitigate its effects. Religious communities use digital tools, such as Zoom, to host services, lead classes on spiritual cultivation, and build community amidst mosque closures. North American Muslims change funerary rites in response to the contagious nature of COVID-19. Ulama’ of Al-Azhar University issue fatwa banning congregational prayers.

NMC Health expects to enter administration

Healthcare company NMC Health failed to reach agreement with its creditors. Its major lender, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) has filed an application in the UK's High Court requesting the company be placed into administration. ADCB’s exposure to NMC amounts to around $981m. US short seller Muddy Waters raised questions about the company’s true level of debt in December. In February the stock was suspended after the investigation turned up inconsistencies in its finances and the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority opened an investigation into the business.

NMC’s Deepening Debt Crisis Heads to a Showdown in U.K. Court

The crisis surrounding NMC Health widened, as the struggling hospital operator rejected a call to be put into administration and United Arab Emirates’ banks disclosed more than $2 billion of exposure. The next chapter opens Thursday when a U.K. court is scheduled to hear Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC’s bid to place NMC into the hands of administrators. With a market value of $2.4 billion and total debt of $6.6 billion, NMC now faces an investigation by the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority.

IFSB organises online facilitating implementation of standards workshop on financial inclusion and Islamic finance from IFSB Technical Note 3

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) is organising an online workshop on Financial Inclusion and Islamic Finance based on the IFSB’s recent Standard, Technical Note 3 (TN-3) on 21 April 2020 at 4.30pm (Malaysian Time). This is part of the workshop series that is aimed to create flexibility and enhance the participants understanding of the IFSB standards and guiding principles. TN-3 underscores the importance of financial inclusion, due to its intricate connection with economic growth, shared prosperity and poverty reduction. The IFSB invites all of its member organisations and market players to participate in this e-workshop on Financial Inclusion and Islamic Finance.
For more information on this and other FIS e-workshop series please visit https://www.ifsb.org/event_detail.php?e_id=427

Does divesting shares for ethical or religious reasons produce real change?

Making moral and religious investment decisions is right, but does not change the world. Shariah compliant screening of stock market investments enables investors to invest in accordance with their religious beliefs, but that is all it does. To combat the harm from alcohol, for example, requires other policies. Divestment campaigns do achieve one thing. That is to increase publicity about the issue concerned, whether that is climate change in the case of oil companies, or deaths from smoking in the case of tobacco companies. The ethical and religious reasons for divestment should not be ignored, since they matter to the individual shareholder. However ethical investors should not deceive themselves to believing that divestment will result in change in circumstances when it will not.

Crowdfunding with Music Securities: A New Approach to Impact Investing

Impact investing activity in Asia has grown quickly, but it will be a challenge to maintain the pace of scaling due to the complex and widely heterogeneous landscape of the region. Crowdfunding has been identified as a potential solution to match the demands and risk appetite of investors to the needs of operators. A case study on Music Securities is used to highlight the key benefits and risks of such an impact investing model. Formulating appropriate and efficient policies and increasing awareness among investors will also be crucial in promoting impact investing activity.

Islamic Development Bank earmarks $630m for members

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group has set-up a special Strategic Preparedness and Response Facility worth $730 million to mitigate the negative impact of the COVID -19 pandemic. The IsDB Group stated that its entities will support the private sector in responding to the crisis and to minimise its impact on SMEs to sustain economic development. Additionally, the Islamic Cooperation for Development (ICD) shall provide $250 million of emergency funding mainly in the form of medium to long-term financing instruments to help affected sectors. ICD will also be aiding the private healthcare industry of affected member-countries to meet surging need for services, equipment and medicine.

Leaders of world’s most powerful countries come together for Saudi-led virtual summit

Leaders of the most powerful countries in the world will today come together in a virtual summit organized by the Saudi Arabia G20 presidency to tackle the accelerating coronavirus crisis. Among world leaders expected to participate in the meeting are US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The World Health Organization, the UN, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are among the international organizations that will take part, as well as other development organizations. Saudi Arabia’s efforts at global coordination will continue after the virtual summit. Another forum of G20 finance ministers is planned for next month, as well as a virtual gathering of G20 health ministers.

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