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Saturday, 14 July 2012

Islamic finance strong alternative to face economic crisis

Malaysia is unique among Muslim countries in operating both conventional interest-based banking side by side with Islamic finance.

In the past decade the industry has made steady inroads and now accounts for 20 percent of the local banking assets. 

And in these times of economic uncertainty, it is not just consumers but also governments and major corporations that are looking for funding through Islamic channels, which are not just profit driven but based on ethical considerations. 

Dr Soualhi says Malaysia has put in place a strong regulatory, legal and Shariah framework. That has helped Malaysia become the largest issuer of sukuk or Islamic bonds in the world, to the tune of 150 billion US dollars. 

It's also gaining reputation for coming up with new Shariah-compliant products and services, as well as becoming a hub for education specializing in Islamic finance. But some people in the industry say there is still plenty of room for improvement and growth. 

Islamic finance is one of the key areas the government has identified to move the economy forward. Globally the industry is worth an estimated one trillion dollars and expected to grow by at least 25 percent a year. 

Although Malaysia is one of the leaders in Islamic banking, it also faces stiff competition from even non-Muslim players like London and neighboring Singapore, which are keen to grab a slice of the Islamic finance pie.

(Press Tv / 15 June 2012)

Alfalah Consulting - Kuala
Islamic Investment

The Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Centre (QICDRC) eyes Islamic finance jurisdiction

The Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Centre (QICDRC) plans to extend its commercial court jurisdiction to Islamic finance through a model framework, which it is currently working on, its top executive said yesterday.
In an exclusive interview with the Qatar News Agency (QNA), QICDRC chief executive officer Robert Musgrove said, “We are currently looking at the possibility of resolving Islamic finance disputes by setting up a dispute resolution mechanism. We started a joint feasibility study with the QICCA (Qatar International Chamber of Commerce Arbitration) last month. With the increasing popularity of Islamic finance globally and specifically in the GCC, it would be ideal to have a mechanism in place to resolve disputes that would arise,” he said. 

Shariah-compliant investments are rapidly gaining popularity in the $1.3tn global Islamic finance market, gaining 6.1% share from over 650 funds spread across the world. 

Talking about the centre’s role Musgrove said, “We started as the Qatar Financial Centre Civil and Commercial Court as our initial jurisdiction focused on disputes coming out of the QFC (Qatar Financial Centre). We continue to be the commercial court for the QFC, but in May 2012 the Qatar Cabinet agreed to use the official name Qatar International Court. 

“They also approved our overall trading name which is the Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Centre. These new titles allow us to demonstrate publicly the broader range of our work that covers court, arbitration and mediation, and that we are able to accept international commercial disputes from bodies outside the QFC,” Musgrove said.

Asked to elaborate on the QICDRC being described as a new-age court, Musgrove said, “The whole concept of a free floating international court and dispute resolution centre is an exciting prospect for Qatar and this region. Conventional systems such as courts and arbitration are essentially institutional both in nature and operation. The QICDRC is a new-age, market-driven court where businesses choose it to get results quickly unlike institutional courts. 
“All courts have to be institutional to some degree. They have to be tethered to state mechanisms for their ultimate judicial authority, and their access to state negotiated enforcement protocols. Apart from that, there is much greater freedom in a court you have to choose to use, and this allows you to let market needs determine the types of dispute resolution services you offer. 

“It is possible to do this and also to maintain the independence essential to the fair and effective functioning of a legal system. The development of the QICDRC is very much based on the most effective and efficient mechanism for resolving high-end commercial disputes. In order to achieve this you have to understand what your potential clients want,” Musgrove said.
On issues facing Qatar’s legal framework, Musgrove said, “To me the biggest issue is the ability to move at the same pace as commercial and social development. Legal systems are not renowned for keeping up with societal change, which means that the recognition of the need to develop an international commercial court was a major commitment in ensuring Qatar was prepared for the reform that was about to take place.

“Qatar is working at every level on the reform of its legal framework. We are a major part of that, ensuring that truly international standards can be applied in dispute resolution and legal infrastructure. For example, the Qatar Chamber (previously known as the Qatar International Chamber of Commerce) is working with a new senior team to develop effective arbitration for trade disputes. 

“Qatar’s Arbitration Law is under Review, and I very much hope that something like the UNCITRAL (UN Commission on International Trade Law) model law emerges as a further commitment to international benchmark standards. 

“The UN has shown great faith in Qatar by becoming a partner in the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Centre, that will provide both education to the region and also much needed support to the tireless efforts of the Attorney General, Dr Ali al-Marri, to ensure all business in Qatar is clean. 

“We are also working with partners including the Legal and Judicial Studies Centre of the Ministry of Justice, Qatar University and the American Bar Association in developing a strategy for the future of judicial and legal education which should not only help develop international standards in judging and lawyering, but also set an example to the region,” Musgrove said.

Asked how the new court fits in with the Qatar National Vision 2030, he replied, “The Qatar National Vision 2030 lays down a path of developing international benchmark standards in all professions in Qatar. Our commitment is to set those standards for lawyers and judges, with Qatar setting an example not only to its neighbours, but ultimately to the world.”

(Gulf Times / 03 July 2012)

Alfalah Consulting - Kuala
Islamic Investment

Tunisia’s Government is Working on Legislation to Facilitate Islamic Finance

Tunisia’s government is working to pave the way for Islamic finance so that it can gain a stronger foothold in Tunisia’s financial services sector.

The  presence of  Islamic finance in the Tunisian economic landscape is minimal, largely because of a legislative void that limits the scope of Islamic products such as sukuk, or Islamic bonds.

However, a comprehensive legislative system to govern Islamic finance is in the working, said Tunisian Finance Ministry Houcine Dimassi at the 11th Carthage Conference on the “Capacity of Insurance and Re-insurance Industry to Confront New and Important Risks.” Finance Ministry officials also confirmed to Tunisia Live that studies to evaluate the opportunities of Islamic finance in Tunisia have already taken place.

“We have to find a judicial framework to legalize [Islamic financial products] and to clarify the relation between [customer and bank agent] for the good functioning of these products and transactions,” said Wadi Mzid, a director of a bank agency and a specialist in Islamic finance.

The government has already shown a commitment to Islamic finance by creating a National Committee for Islamic Finance as well as six peripheral committees that regularly meet to write up an ad hoc piece of legislation on the matter, which will ultimately be presented to the Constituent Assembly.

Despite the attention that the government appears to be giving Islamic finance, Tunisians are still new to the concept of Islamic banks as the first one was only introduced to Tunisia in 2010 when the Zitouna Bank was established. The second closest example to Zitouna in Tunisia is Al Baraka, which was established in 1983, but only serves as an off-shore bank without performing any financial services within Tunisia.

Civil society groups such as the recently-created Council of Islamic Finance in Tunisia (COFIT) and the Tunisian Association of Islamic Economics (ASTECIS) could play a role in the awareness of Tunisians over Islamic finance, and promote successful experiences with Islamic finance in countries like Malaysia.

COFIT and ASTECIS, however, may have to do more than just create visibility for Islamic finance among Tunisians. A change in mentality may also be necessary, some suggest.
“We shouldn’t reject or accept the Islamic finance by following any ideology or political point of view we have to look at it from an economic angle,” said Mzid.

(Tinisialive / 14 July 2012)

Alfalah Consulting - Kuala
Islamic Investment

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