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National Bonds unveils findings of financial health check for Q3 2016

National Bonds Corporation, a Shari'ah-compliant savings and investment company in the #UAE, announced the results of its financial health check for Q3 2016. The survey found that the majority of the UAE’s residents are yet to sign up for Takaful coverage while only a minority is covered by traditional insurance. Within the UAE national pool of respondents, 89% admitted to not being insured against disabilities through Takaful in contrast to 11% that have traditional coverage against disabilities. The financial health check also charted the financial stability of participants. The results of the present survey are encouraging and indicate that 67% of UAE nationals and 72% of expat residents plan to pay off their liabilities and become debt free by end of this year.

#Uganda: Govt to Extend Interest-Free Loans to Women Groups

More than 2,000 groups of women will acquire interest-free loans worth Shs43 billion from the government under the Uganda Women's Entrepreneurship programme (UWEP). According to Mr Puis Bigirimana, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Gender, women entrepreneurs are constrained by limited access to finance as they attempt to grow their businesses. UWEP will promote women's economic empowerment through entrepreneurship skills. Under the programme, groups will receive up to Shs12.5 million each while special projects that benefit a bigger community will receive Shs25 million. UWEP National programme coordinator Ms Brenda Kifuko said all beneficiaries will have to pay back to enable more women access credit. Groups that pay in the first year of reception will only pay the principle amount while groups that pay after the first year will be subject to a 5% interest rate in form of a service fee to cater for inflation.

State Bank’s Vice President gunned down in Karachi

Senior Vice President of State bank of Pakistan (SBP) was gunned down in the area of Gulistan –e- Johar, within the jurisdiction of Shariah Faisal police. Superintendent Police (SP) Gulshan Doctor Fahad Ahmad said that Muhammad Sadiq Siddiqui was going to a bakery when two alleged dacoits attempted to snatch his vehicle. On resistance, dacoits opened fire on him. As a result, he sustained serious injuries and died, while dacoits managed to escape from the scene with car.

HELB plans for shariah compliant loans

In #Kenya the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) is set to introduce Shariah compliant products. The proposal to make the students loan provider Shariah compliant is currently being reviewed by the Attorney-General, prof Githu Muigai. Once approved, the law will improve access for Muslim students to educational financial support helping them to obtain loans which do not infringe on their religious beliefs. The number of Muslim students at universities has been on a gradual rise and the move will be of great benefit. HELB Chief Executive Charles Ringera said the board was with Islamic finance experts in the implementation of the policy.

Azzad Joins Call for Food Industry to End Use of Antibiotics on Livestock

Azzad Asset Management has joined a consortium of responsible investors in support of a United Nations' call to end antibiotic use in global food supply chains. The UN statement calls member nations to bring clarity to antibiotic use through national and regional regulations. Antibiotics are frequently used for rapid growth promotion in livestock and poultry and to prevent illness in animals living in cramped and unhealthy conditions. Experts say that the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in the meat industry has contributed to the rise of antibiotic resistance in the US and across the world. It is estimated that this public health issue is responsible for 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths each year.

The Role of Financial Services in Reducing Hunger

For the majority of the 1.4 billion of the world’s poor agriculture is the main source of income and employment. Many farmers live in areas lacking access to basic financial services, leaving them vulnerable to shocks and prone to low-risk, low-return investments. Improving access to financial services can help farmers make profitable investments that increase their yields. At a macro level, higher yields increase the total global supply of food. At a micro level, higher yields increase household income and food security for the world’s 1.5 billion living in smallholder households.

Setting a sustainable foundation for financial reporting in #GCC

Across the world, organisations can no longer define success or efficiency solely on the merit of financial results or revenue earned. Reporting is still very much driven by numbers, and performance is measured in terms of hard outcomes, rather than the more qualitative aspects. An integrated approach asks the management of an organisation to consider a wide variety of capitals — beyond financial and manufactured capital. The concept is fairly new to the GCC, sustainability has become a major focus for businesses and organisations of all kinds. Today, sustainability cannot be separated from other business practices and needs to be fully integrated into each function within the organisation.

Proposed economic crime offence may lead to senior manager prosecutions, say lawyers

Lawyers have warned that failure to prevent economic crime could lead to more senior individuals being prosecuted for misconduct. The UK government's proposed legislation could lead to deferred prosecution agreements with the Serious Fraud Office. The involved companies would potentially give evidence against individuals implicated in misconduct. According to Judith Seddon, partner at Clifford Chance, the corporate criminal liability will provide for an additional serious consequence of failing to satisfy existing requirements for anti-money laundering and financial crime prevention.

Bahrain's GFH sells remaining 18 pct of Leeds United

A Dubai-based subsidiary of Islamic investment bank GFH Financial Group has sold its remaining 18 % stake in English football club Leeds United, ending nearly 4 years of Middle Eastern involvement in the club. GFH Capital sold the stake to Eleonora Sport, operated by Italian businessman Massimo Cellino. Eleonora now owns 100 % of the club, Leeds United said.

GFH bought Leeds United in December 2012 but within months began looking for new investment in the club, and in 2014 Cellino bought a majority stake in it. GFH Financial did not reveal the price at which it sold its remaining stake but said the deal would reflect positively on its financials and liquidity for 2016. Crippled during the global credit crisis in 2008, GFH Financial went through several debt restructurings but has resumed expanding in the financial services sector. In August it signed a memorandum of understanding to buy most of Bahrain's Bank Al Khair.

Opinion: Halal and Tayyib – the next wave

If we look back at the emergence of the Muslim Lifestyle markets as a global phenomenon, we can see an interesting pattern developing. From 2004 - 2007, Malaysia was the epicenter of the Halal movement, bringing the terms ‘Halal market’ and ‘Halal industry’ into the global business vocabulary. Bidding to become a global Halal hub, the development of their Halal food sector made Malaysia a role model for other countries looking to position themselves in this fast-growing marketplace. Abdalhamid David Evans, Founder, HalalFocus.net/ImaratConsultants.com, will be speaking about this topic at the Muslim Lifestyle Expo 2016 in Event City, Manchester on the 30 October 2016.

60 stock exchanges sign up to UNCTAD sustainability initiative

According to the UNCTAD-backed Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative nearly 60 stock exchanges, representing more than 70% of listed equity markets, and some 30,000 companies with a market capitalization of over $55trn, have now made a commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Stock exchanges can take concrete steps on five of the 17 SDGs, adopted by UN Member States in September 2015. These goals include work on gender, decent work and economic growth, responsible production and consumption, climate change, and global partnerships. The initiative's 2016 progress report notes that financial markets could do more to support achievement of the SDGs.

Islamic financing costs limit use in public projects

The high transaction costs involved in Islamic financing are likely to limit its use in funding infrastructure projects in Kenya. According to a new study commissioned by the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) Islamic financing is deemed to be expensive. This fact is corroborated by the case study of Lekki project which utilised a loan financing scheme that attracts huge transaction costs paid by the special purpose company in terms of 1.5-4.0% one-off administration fees and notary fees. The working paper also recommended that a national Sharia board be set up so as to set standards for Islamic finance.

SECP drafting Shariah regulatory framework: Hijazi

The Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) is in the process of drafting a Shariah regulatory framework. Addressing at the second day of "World Islamic Finance Forum" (WIFF), SECP Chairman Zafar Hijazi said SECP has established a full-fledged Islamic finance department to co-ordinate the Islamic finance initiative. He said SECP is fully supporting Shariah compliant business and the government has implemented the SECP's tax proposal for offering Sukuk. SECP is currently working on harmonisation and standardisation of regulations for a uniform regulatory environment. The commission has an independent Shariah Advisory Board to review product development and adjudicate on Shariah matters.

Dar suggests investment in research to Islamise economy

Speaking at the World Islamic Finance Forum, Pakistan's Finance Minister Ishaq Dar suggested investing in research in order to Islamise the whole economic system of the country. He said Islamic finance industry leaders should play an active role in promoting the industry. At the same time, the leaders should not remain complacent with the traditional model, but should help the finance industry evolve and innovate products based on Shariah compliance. Dar said economic growth in Pakistan had crossed 4% and had remained steady at 5% this year. This growth rate is expected to accelerate to 7% in fiscal year 2017-18. Later referring to a BBC report, he said Pakistan would become the 18th largest economy of the world by 2050 from the current 44th position.

IRTI, Thomson Reuters and IBA launch new study on the outlook of Islamic finance in #Pakistan

The Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), Thomson Reuters and the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) launched the Pakistan Islamic Finance Report titled "Innovation at Asia’s Crossroads". The ceremony, which took place in Karachi, was attended by senior government officials, market executives and industry professionals. The report highlights that the Islamic capital market sector registered a double-digit growth rate in the past decade, recorded mostly by Islamic mutual funds. In all Islamic finance industry segments, finance professionals and investors maintain a positive economic outlook, and Islamic finance institutions have built strong fundamentals.

Islamic Finance: Demand for more shariah-compliant products

While the number of Islamic products in #Malaysia has grown in the last 10 years, there still aren’t enough to cater for the needs of local investors. According to Rohani Mohd Shahir, president of the Association for Islamic Financial and Wealth Management Malaysia (AIFiWM) the growing demand is due to a greater awareness of compliance for religious purposes. There is a lack of Islamic real estate investment trusts (REITs) and fewer shariah-compliant stocks in Malaysia today due to the tightening of regulatory requirements. To increase the number of listings available, AIFiWM is championing a move to restore the shariah-compliant status of companies that were once deemed compliant.

Regulators to play in 'sandbox' with infant #fintech firms

In #Indonesia fintech startups will be invited to a safe space where they can test any service under the supervision of the central bank before it issues regulations and allows full authorization. The safe space, known as a "regulatory sandbox", has been adopted in many countries around the world. The central bank will also set up a designated fintech office to overlook the sandbox. The Indonesian Fintech Association applauded the planned sandbox approach as it will serve as a tangible platform for all fintech initiatives to be tested into the regulatory system. The association's secretary-general Karaniya Dharmasaputra said this concept was a good one as shown by many countries implementing it toward success.

Islamic Finance’s total assets will reach $2.1 trillion by year-end, says S&P

S&P Global Ratings believes that the drop in Islamic finance growth is likely to continue in 2017. Nevertheless, it estimates the industry’s total assets will reach $2.1 trillion at year-end 2016. S&P Global Head of Islamic Finance Mohamed Damak said Islamic finance will maintain growth of around 5% in 2017. The oil price environment will weigh negatively on economic growth in the GCC for the next two years. A broader consensus around the need to standardize legal structures and Sharia interpretation could help the industry to progress. Another great help could be the industry’s potential contribution to the United Nation’s sustainable development financing goals.

Islamic banking has capacity of 40m people to explore in #Pakistan

State Bank of Pakistan Deputy Governor Saeed Ahmed said that there is a dire need to create awareness to promote Islamic banking. According to the Global Islamic Finance Report (GIFR) 2016, Pakistan ranks ninth in terms of development of Islamic financial services industry. However, there is still a capacity of 40 million more people in the banking market that the Islamic finance sector can explore. In June the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) noted that the Islamic banking industry had witnessed a growth of 7.4% in April to June quarter. Its assets reached Rs 1,745 billion while its deposits also increased by 9.3%. This shows a market capitalisation of 13.2%. There is still room to grow and the Islamic financing institutions can increase their operations and market shares.

Stability, of a Sort: #Turkey’s Islamic Bonds

Islamic entities known as participation banks offer bonds with potentially greater upside and more stability than standard government debt. According to a recent report from Standard & Poor’s, participation banks doubled their share of the country’s overall banking assets to about 5% between 2005 to 2015. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s support for further integration of Islamic law into all walks of life means participation banks are likely to grow. The system’s assets could reach some $300 billion by 2025, according to the Participation Banks Association of Turkey.

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