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Thursday, 18 April 2013

Australia: Government eyes Islamic finance growth opportunity

The Australian government has said that the Islamic finance provides a opportunity for growth in the both the Australian financial services sector and the wider economy.

Addressing delegates at the first Amanie Australia Islamic Finance Forum in Melbourne, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer Bernie Ripoll said the introduction of Shariah products to the domestic market would help to create jobs and boost sustainable growth.

"The Shariah prohibition of highly speculative activities not only helps to protect the economy against abuses and distortions, but also forges a closer link between financial activity and the real economy," he said.

The Islamic finance industry is growing at a rate of 15%-20% per year and recent estimates cited by Ripoll say it could be worth as much as $2 trillion within the next three to four years.

Ripoll said the growth would benefit not only the Australian Muslim community, but the financial services industry as a whole.

"The introduction of Islamic finance products into the Australian market is not a replacement for other forms of finance, but rather a door to new opportunities for our financial services sector and for our economy more broadly," he said.
Ripoll also sought to reassure delegates that Shariah-compliant products would be privy to the same regulation and capital laws that governed all Australian financial products.

"As well as a large and growing Muslim population, Australia has several advantages that make us well-placed to facilitate further demand for Islamic finance services," Ripoll continued.

"Our geographic position places us in close proximity to large Muslim populations. Over twenty years of the Superannuation Guarantee means our financial institutions have extensive funds management expertise. Additionally, we have a well-resourced, well-regulated and innovative financial sector."

Ripoll added that the government would commit to a greater focus on deepening Islamic finance skills though education, training and qualifications as well as to examine whether any changes to tax laws were needed to ensure parity between Islamic and non-Islamic financial products.

(Financial Standard Online / 17 April 2013)

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