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Tax cut for Shariah compliant business to bolster Islamic finance

A 2% tax cut announced for all Shariah-compliant companies is bound to give a big boost to Islamic Banking in Pakistan. The government has introduced the 2% rebate for Shariah-compliant companies through the Finance Act 2016. The Finance Act also covers the entire national budget for the fiscal year 2017. The latest decision to expand the programme followed a report by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), which confirmed a continuing spread of the Islamic banking system in the country. Islamic banks currently have a 13% share of the conventional banking in Pakistan.

#Indonesia launches master plan to breathe new life into Islamic finance sector

The Indonesian government has launched a national master plan to develop its Islamic finance industry. Indonesian Islamic banks hold roughly 5% of total banking assets, compared with more than 20% in neighbouring Malaysia. According to Farrukh Raza, managing director of IFAAS, an Islamic finance consultancy which designed the 10-year master plan, the government would increase its use of Islamic debt instruments to as much as 50% of total issuance in 10 years time. Indonesia's pilgrims' fund would also see the establishment of a dedicated asset management arm to implement a more rigorous investment policy and attract external fund managers.

Bank Negara governor: Islamic finance key segment in financial system

In #Malaysia Bank Negara governor Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim said Islamic banking assets made up 27% of the total banking system, surpassing Bank Negara’s Financial Sector Masterplan. He said that there were 27 takaful players offering more than 100 financial products now compared with fewer than four Islamic banks and takaful players before year 2000. He added that the penetration rate for takaful now stood at 14.8% of the population, indicating growing acceptance of takaful products. On the launch of the Educator’s Manual on Shariah Standard Murabahah, Muhammad said that the manual was aimed to act as a comprehensive teaching guide to enhance the Islamic finance syllabus. It was jointly developed by Bank Negara in collaboration with the International Shari’ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance and IBFIM.

Taxation for Islamic banking: amendments in legal framework under review: MoF

In #Pakistan the Ministry of Finance stated that amendments in legal framework are under review to strengthen the framework of taxation proposals for Islamic Banking. The initiatives mainly include review of Mudaraba guidelines to align those with overall regulatory framework of Islamic Finance, issuance of Sukuk guidelines, issuance of Takaful rules and government Ijara Sukuk. A multi-tiered Shariah supervisory and compliance framework has been put in place. Also, a Shariah governance framework for Islamic Banking Institutions (IBIs) was formulated, which explicitly defines Shariah related rules and responsibilities of all key organs of IBIs. The initial Minimum Capital Requirement (MCR) for an Islamic Banking subsidiary was revised from Rs 10 billion to Rs 6 billion.

A family's story: Governance and leadership in the Middle East

This case study reports on three governance challenges overcome by a diversified family enterprise from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. One of the early lessons for the family was to separate emotions from business. They did this by appointing independent directors whose role was to set the strategy behind the business. In order to engage everyone, they established a family assembly, where each and every branch would always be fairly represented. The family assembly membership was and still is based on merit, and its chairman is always the eldest member of the family.

Bank Negara Launches Educator's Manual On Shariah Standards

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) launched the Educator's Manual on Shariah standards and operational requirements in accordance with the Murabahah principle. BNM Governor Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim said the manual serves as an important material towards enhancing the quality of Islamic finance education. The manual was developed by BNM together with the International Shari'ah Research Academy for lslamic Finance (ISRA) and the Islamic Banking and Finance Institute Malaysia (IBFIM). A panel of 20 experts in various fields contributed to its content.

#Maldives spearheads growth of Islamic finance in South Asia

The Maldives is working towards enlarging its Islamic finance industry to diversify its economy away from tourism. The country aims to become an investment hub for South Asia and centre for the halal industry in the region. To that end, President Yameen Abdul Gayyoom’s government has developed a roadmap to expand Islamic financial services throughout the archipelago. Last year, the Ministry of Economic Development started offering Islamic microfinancing through the Bank of Maldives, and earlier in 2016, the government launched Hazana Maldives, a special-purpose vehicle for the further development of Islamic finance. It also created a Shariah advisory board and laid the regulatory framework for sukuk investment.

Islamic finance assets forecast to be worth $3.2trn by 2020

According to a new report by Thomson Reuters, Islamic finance assets grew by 10% to reach $2 trillion in 2015. Islamic banking represented 73% of these assets, followed by sukuk which represented 17%. The increase in assets was driven by strong growth in all sectors - Islamic banking, takaful, outstanding sukuk and net value of Islamic funds. Islamic finance assets are projected to grow to $3.2 trillion by 2020, with Islamic banking reaching $2.6 trillion. The report added that the sukuk market on the other hand has struggled in the past couple of years due to the global economic uncertainty. Total issuance is expected to be around $70 billion by end of 2016.

World’s First Islamic Endowment #Crowdfunding Platform Launched

Tun Abdullah Badawi, the former Prime Minister of #Malaysia, has launched the Waqf (Islamic Endowment) crowdfunding platform or WaqfWorld. The new platform was announced at the 12th World Islamic Economic Foundation Forum (WIEF) held in Jakarta last week. The platform was developed in partnership with EthisVentures.com. Founding patron, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi saw the potential of Waqf Crowdfunding to develop the whole community of Muslims. WaqfWorld.org does not charge beneficiaries or users any fees. The platform is completely free during the initial phase. Operational costs will be partially borne by voluntary contributions, and other resources provided by Ethis Ventures.

Notes on a smaller island

There is little escape from the volatility that the Brexit vote has wreaked. Islamic banks' partiality for UK real estate could be particularly painful if property prices fall, as they are predicted to, by as much as 10%. Islamic banks' overreliance on the property sector is well documented, and Britain has long been a favourite destination for real estate investment. The biggest issue facing the UK financial services sector is whether institutions will retain their passporting rights. There is much at stake for Britain too. Islamic finance plays a significant role in infrastructure development in the UK, from The Shard to the Olympic Village. Over 6500 homes are currently being financed by a GBP 700 million investment by Gatehouse Bank. The UK cannot afford to lose this funding, especially when investment from Europe dries up.

#Indonesia, #Malaysia mull to establish World Sharia stock market center

Executives of Indonesian and Malaysian stock markets signed on Tuesday a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the establishment of a World Sharia Stock Market Center. Signing of the document was conducted by Indonesia Stock Exchange President Director Tito Sulistio and his Malaysian counterpart Tajuddin Bin Atan. The planned center aims to develop Sharia products and portfolios for stock markets, but also to train human resources to become competent, professional and skillful persons in the industry. Global Sharia financial market was estimated to expand to USD 3.24 trillion by 2020.

Islamic finance could benefit #Italy after Brexit

Investors from the Islamic financial world could be the answer to Italy’s problems in the wake of the Brexit. On a recent conference in Italy, participants said this would require legislative changes to follow Islamic principles. A working group at the Lower House’s financial commission is looking into the matter. Participants also suggested issuing State bonds following the rules of Islamic finance. Under the proposal, the assets would consist of State-owned real estate, bought and re-sold by a company set up for the purpose, whose participating shares would be bought by investors.

Khazanah Said to Weigh Insurance Deal With Billionaire Quek

Khazanah Nasional, the $27 billion Malaysian sovereign fund, is weighing a bid for control of the insurance operations of billionaire Quek Leng Chan’s Hong Leong Financial Group. Khazanah is considering an offer for Hong Leong Financial’s 70% stake in Hong Leong Assurance and its 65% holding in Hong Leong MSIG Takaful. The bid could be valued at about 3.2 billion ringgit ($799 million). Hong Leong Financial said last month that Malaysia’s central bank had no objection to the sale of its stakes in the two insurance units.

Appreciation for steering committee on promotion of #IslamicBanking

The Steering Committee of Sitara Chemicals received laudation for the promotion of Islamic Banking in #Pakistan. The Committee was headed by Mr Saeed Ahmed, Deputy Governor State Bank of Pakistan. Sitara Chemicals has shared with Islamic debt investors its profits without comprising on true Musharakah principles. This fact is evident from the level of rate of return offered by the Company on its earlier Islamic debt issues. In 2012 Sitara Chemicals signed an agreement for design and procurement of Coal Based Power Plant having Capacity of 38.5 MW. Total Project cost was estimated at Rs 3.1 billion and Diminishing Musharika Facility Rs 2 billion from syndication of renowned Islamic Banks of Pakistan. In July 2016, this project has been commissioned and trial production has started. First instalment of this facility has been repaid as per its planned schedule.

Coveting the Islamic finance global position

#Saadiq, synonymous with "truthful" in Arabic, is the brand name for Standard Chartered’s global Islamic banking services. Currently Saadiq provides a comprehensive range of Shariah compliant international banking services across the wholesale and consumer banking. To ensure that Standard Chartered Saadiq products comply with the principles of Shariah, it consults an independent committee comprising three of the world’s most renowned Shariah scholars – Dr Abdul Sattar Abu Ghuddah, Sheikh Nizam Yaquby and Dr Mohammed Ali Elgari.

#Russia's Muslim Regions Turn to the Gulf for Help

As Russia's economy continues to stagnate, the country's 83 regions are being forced to compete with one another for outside investment. Four of Russia's Muslim republics, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Chechnya and Dagestan, have set their sights on Muslim states in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Despite their economic differences, Russia's Muslim republics have been uniformly hurt by the collapse in global oil prices. Though Islamic financing has been legally banned in Russia, the Muslim republics have simply ignored it outright, issuing transactions under Islamic banking guidelines or negotiating with foreign financial groups to start implementing them. Tatarstan and Chechnya discussed several construction projects, but the question now is whether Russia will allow Gulf state financing to continue. Most likely it will continue to put national security and Russian unity ahead of the needs of the Muslim population.

#Malaysia’s $30b fund goes long as Islamic plan progresses

Malaysia’s second-largest pension fund plans to buy more bonds to hedge against another interest-rate cut as it moves further toward becoming a full-fledged Islamic entity. CEO of Kumpulan Wang Persaraan, Wan Kamaruzaman Wan Ahmad said the fund is considering lowering its 5% minimum return target because of the uncertainty in global markets. He also added that this low interest-rate environment, low corporate returns, lower dividend yields will prevail for a much longer period. KWAP bought 30-year Malaysian government bonds at a yield of 4.613% on June 29, days after the UK voted to leave the European Union. Wan Kamaruzaman said the fund will likely keep its 2% allocation to UK assets, despite the results of the referendum, because it adds diversification to the portfolio.

The ins and outs of #IslamicFinance

In #South Africa First National Bank (FNB), Al Baraka and HBZ Bank are the only financial institutions offering Islamic banking services. These banks offer a range of Islamic cheque accounts, Islamic savings accounts and Islamic investment accounts as well as vehicle, property and asset finance. CEO of FNB Islamic Banking Amman Muhammad says the bank has seen a consistent rise in the number of South Africans taking up the bank’s transactional banking and investment, vehicle and property finance products irrespective of faith. Customers are looking for an alternative banking form and FNB can offer a principles-based approach. Muhammad says the normal regulatory and risk rules apply to all Islamic banking products.

Deloitte and IRTI launch new Islamic Finance insights series

Deloitte and the Islamic Research & Training Institute (IRTI) have launched a new whitepaper entitled "The catalysts for change: Strategic priorities in governance and regulation in Islamic Finance practice." It is the first publication of a series of whitepapers aiming to address industry issues and present practical analyses. According to Joe El Fadl, Partner at Deloitte Middle East, the primary goal of the series is to provide a forum through which best practice, knowledge and Islamic finance research can be shared with stakeholders. It also presents the progress in governance, regulatory compliance, risk, sustainable business models, financial reporting, transparency and leadership.

Politics of Islamic finance in #Turkey

For over three decades Turkish governments did not dare speak the name Islamic banking for fear of being branded radical. These institutions were officially named special finance houses, profit-and-loss banks, interest-free banks and more recently, participation banks. Now Islamic finance public policy is elevated to a pivotal position in the official management of the Turkish economy.
Ankara has recently embarked on a wholesale restructuring of its participation banking sector, which has seen the entry of three new banks including Ziraat Participation Bank, Halk Participation Bank and Vakif Bank. This brings the total number of participation banks in Turkey to seven including the four established ones, Kuveyt Turk Participation Bank, Albaraka Turk Participation Bank, Turkiye Finans and Asya Bank. Ankara is also keen in making Turkey a leading proponent of Islamic finance and developing Istanbul into an international financial centre.

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