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Thursday, 18 September 2014

Islamic finance & management events in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia in 2014

Date: 24-25 September 2014
Event: KL Conference on Islamic Finance
Event site:

To register or reserve a seat online, please go to:

Organizer: Alfalah Consulting

Pakistan: Helping the needy: Zakat, dowry assistance revised after 31 years

The Provincial Zakat Council has increased the monthly stipend for the needy after 31 years. The raise has been approved for nearly five million recipients of zakat in the province, The Express Tribune has learnt.
This includes dowry grants. The amount has been revised after 20 years. The amount has been raised by up to 100%.
The amount of zakat for a single person has been increased from Rs500 to Rs1,000.
The provincial government had earlier revised the dowry fund in 1994, announcing Rs10,000 for each deserving family. The amount has been raised to Rs20,000.
The eligibility of a family for the fund is determined by the Punjab Baitulmal and charity organisations operating under the Provincial Zakat Council.
The government will start paying the revised zakat and dowry funds from the next month.
The council has informed District Zakat Councils about the raise in the stipends.
A study of the official record revealed that zakat councils in all 36 districts have submitted 21 requests to the council over five years for raising the funds.
Some of the beneficiary families The Express Tribune spoke to said the government should have raised the amount by 500%.
Naseem Bibi, a daily wager, said she was happy with the raise in the dowry fund. “Although the government should have announced a raise of 400%, the current announcement is a welcome move,” she said.
Muzafargarh Zakat Officer Muhammad Adnan said he had received provincial government’s orders for the raise in funds. He said the district zakat office currently had for three months. “We have funds for July, August and September. The beneficiaries will be paid in line with the new directive,” he said.

(The Express Tribune / 14 September 2014)
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Goldman Learns From Debut Flop in Islamic Finance Market

Three years after its first foray into the Islamic capital markets ended without a sale, investors piled in to buy sukuk debt from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS)yesterday as the bank joined the governments of Hong Kong and the U.K. in selling debut Shariah-compliant bonds this year.
The New York-based lender attracted bids for three times the $500 million of sukuk it sold yesterday, according to two people familiar with the deal, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The five-year sukuk was priced to yield 90 basis points, or 0.9 percentage point, over the benchmark midswap rate, according to the people.
After failing to sell sukuk bonds in 2011 amid criticism the deal didn’t ensure debt would be traded at par, as required by Islamic law, Goldman adjusted the structure this time in a bid to appeal to more investors. The new issue is a Sukuk al Wakala, a Shariah-compliant format in which one party entrusts another to act on its behalf.
Islamic financial assets globally will double to $3.4 trillion in the five years through 2018, according to forecasts from Ernst & Young LLP. The U.K. became the first non-Muslim country to issue sovereign Islamic bonds in June with a sale that lured orders for 10 times the amount offered. Hong Kong raised $1 billion in a debut sukuk last week, with a bid-to-offer ratio of 4.7.

‘New Entrants’

“You’re starting to see a lot of new entrants coming into the sukuk market,” Damian White, a treasurer at Dubai-based Noor Bank, said in an interview yesterday. “The hope is that they will not be one-time visitors, and that it will encourage others.”
David Wells, a spokesman for Goldman in New York, declined to comment on the firm’s issuance of Islamic bonds.
The pricing “seems pretty aggressive at first glance, although we don’t see paper like this very often,” Ahmed Shehada, the Abu Dhabi-based head of advisory and institutions at NBAD Securities LLC, said by e-mail yesterday. “This will attract a different institutional base, mostly sovereign wealth funds and banks looking to manage liquidity and cash.”
Global sales of Islamic bonds have surged 39 percent this year to $33 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, as investors have tapped the expanding pool of liquidity. Issuers from Malaysia are the biggest sellers of sukuk this year, having raised about $14 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank PJSC (ADIB), National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC, Emirates NBD Capital Ltd. and NCB Capital also managed the offering, the people said. Standard & Poor’s rated the issue A-, the seventh-highest investment grade, it said in a statement this month.
(Bloomberg / 17 September 2014)
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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Big gains to be had in insurance and takaful for SMEs

The wheel of fortune turned for Dubai when Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum took over the reins in 1958. Dubai took its fledgling steps towards success with the dredging of the Deira Creek, which had seen rapid silting-up during the early 1950s limiting the number of vessels it could harbour. Construction work was completed in 1960.

The rest, as they say, is history. Dubai set about creating for itself a prime position on the global map.

Today, the UAE in general and specifically Dubai, has firmly established itself as the trading and logistical hub of the Middle East, bridging trade routes between the East and the West with the expansion of its ports infrastructure. The emirate is an undisputed destination of choice as Middle East headquarters for multinational companies across diverse sectors including technology, food and beverages, consumer goods, and electronics. Dubai also hosts leading manufacturing and financial institutions and outsourcing services providers.

Somewhere along the line, these multinational companies in their race to gain from economies of scale have forgotten the smaller players who have been the real drivers of growth and catapulted Dubai and the UAE to great heights.
Interestingly enough, even in today’s technology-driven world, the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) remain the growth engines of the economy.

According to the UAE Ministry of Economy, SMEs currently account for 92 per cent of the country’s total registered companies, 86 per cent of the workforce in the private sector and 40 per cent of the GDP.

Sadly, the insurance and takaful industries have proved least effective in terms of penetrating the SME sector with appropriate coverage leaving it vulnerable to loss and closure.

The situation is indeed ironic. A service industry that began as a practice which was started by small groups of traders is today offering them ill-suited coverage at disproportionate costs in the very region of its birth. We must perhaps pause to remember that Babylonian (Iraqi) traders were among the first to begin the culture of distributing risks as far back as the second millennium BC.

For takaful and insurance providers the push towards big-ticket corporates has been a natural choice – as they provide tastier fare in terms of marketing effort – preferring to clinch and service one big client rather than closing deals for and servicing a multitude of smaller clients.

However, choosing this easy way out has cost the insurance and takaful sector dearly — it has missed out on a core segment of clients.

There is a dire need to rectify the situation, and with some innovation and practical thinking, insurance op
erators could be opening up a new market while supporting the small businesses to manage their risks more effectively.
Such products could include tailored coverage options for each trade class, sensitive but relevant pricing, as well as flexible financial limits to ensure the provision of adequate cover right through the seasons. Ultimately sales and policy maintenance automation is central to value creation for both parties, so wordings will need to be clearly laid out and highly adaptable.

Takaful and insurance operators would also need to step away from the conventional methods for marketing their services to small traders. The campaign should prioritise ease of understanding of the decision-makers, while taking up as little of their time as possible.

Circumstances today demand that the takaful and insurance industries step up and stay true to their raison d’être – to protect the most crucial part of the economy. With the future vision placing significant emphasis on the establishment of a globally dominant Islamic financial services hub, takaful providers must strive harder to offer appropriate products to SME businesses.

(The National Business / 14 September 2014)
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Monday, September 15, 2014 - Lahore—Provincial Minister for Zakat & Ushr Nadeem Kamran has said that payment of Zakat fund will be made to the Mustahkeen through branchless banking and Telenor Easypaisa has been selected for this purpose. This decision has been taken to save deserving people from the problems in opening bank account and encashment of cheques, he added. Initially a pilot project will be started in this regard in three districts including Lahore, Sheikhupura and Hafizabad while later scope of this scheme will be extended to all districts.

He was speaking at the signing ceremony of MoU between Provincial Zakat & Ushr Department and Telenor regarding distribution of Zakat through Easypaisa among Mustahkeen at a local hotel here today. Secretary Zakat & Ushr Habib ur Rehman Gillani, Administrator Zakat Muhammad Yousaf Butt, Director Business Services Telenor Shahzad Najam, Vice President Mr. Yahya Khan CEO Tameer Bank Nadeem Hussain, Vice President Aslam Hayat and a large number of people were present. The Minister said that branchless banking will help in speedy and easy distribution of Zakat among the deserving persons and they would be able to collect this amount from their nearest Easypaisa shops. He said that a new process of Zakat distribution will be ensured transparency and elimination of corruption.

Nadeem Kamran further said that department has decided to enhance the amount of subsistence allowance from 500 to 1000 rupees per person while Zakat will be paid to Mustahkeen after every three months in lump sum. He said that it has also been decided to increase marriage grant for the deserving girls from 10000 to 20000 rupees. 

He said that Zakat and Usher Department provides financial help of billions of rupees to Mustahkeen and lakhs of people benefit from it every year. The Minister said that under the old procedure Zakat was paid through cross cheque by local Zakat committees and sometimes this process was delayed due to different reasons whereas under the new system, Zakat will be paid timely and the deserving persons will not have to go to local chairman of Zakat committee.

Earlier, Secretary Zakat & Usher Habib ur Rehman Gillani and officials of Telenor Easypaisa also addressed the ceremony and assured the Minister of their complete coopera.

(Pakistan Observer / 15 September 2014)
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