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Saturday, 15 February 2014

Islamic banking gaining momentum across the world: SBP deputy chairman

Islamabad: Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan Saeed Ahmad has said that Islamic banking is getting momentum not only in Pakistan but across the world. 

He was addressing the inaugural session of two-day International Conference on Islamic Business (ICIB 2014) in which speakers discussed various aspects of Islamic business and finance. 

Organised by Riphah Center of Islamic Business, a constituent institute of Riphah International University in collaboration with International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) & the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is being attended by world renowned Islamic scholars and economists from across the globe.

The theme of the conference is “Equity, Venture Capital, Corporate Governance and Institutional Development for Equity Investments: Prospects and Practices from Islamic Perspective”.

The Deputy Governor of State Bank of Pakistan Saeed Ahmad was the chief guest at the inaugural session of the conference while Prof Datuk Syed Othman Al Habshi from Malaysia and Prof. Khurshid Ahmad, Chairman, Institute of Policy Studies Islamabad were the Keynote speakers on the occasion.

Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan Saeed Ahmad also said that the State Bank as a regulator in banking is playing an important role in projecting Islamic banking and finance in the country. The government has established a committee for the purpose and prominent bankers and Islamic scholars are its members. The Deputy Governor himself is head of this committee. The committee is working with full swing to prepare guidelines for Islamic banking and finance as per teachings of Quran and Sunnah.

He lauded the efforts of Riphah International University for organising series of such conferences giving an opportunity to researchers and scholars to discuss the Islamic banking and finance in depth. 

This is the 3rd International Conference on Islamic Business organised by Riphah International University. Earlier two conferences were held in February 2011 and February 2012.

The President of Islamic International University Islamabad Dr Ahmad Yousif A Al-Draiweesh, in his address in Arabic, expressed the confidence that the conference will be much helpful in projecting Islamic business and finance. 

It will provide a platform for dialogue and discussions between researches, policymakers, corporate leaders, business managers, practitioners of Islamic banking and finance.

Prof Khurshid Ahmad, in his key-note address, spoke on the risk and equity based investments and financing and explained how the Islamic business and finance could help to resolve the global economic problems. 

He said the economic crises in 2008-09 could not be handled by the western system of finance and the people have to suffer because of this debacle. He said the institutions practicing finance under shariah not only provided the solutions of the problems faced by the world economy but also provided a clear path to meet such challenges in future.

Prof Datuk Syed Othman Al-Habshi, in his speech, said Islamic banking so far is moving in right direction and has crossed a number of milestones over the period of last four decades. He hoped this conference will help in formulating the strategies to meet the challenges being faced by Islamic finance.

Earlier, the Pro-Chancellor of Riphah International University Hassan Muhammad Khan, in his remarks, said by organizing such conferences of international level Riphah University intends to provide a platform for discussing the vital issue of development of the Islamic business, banking and finance so as to create awareness about shariah complaint businesses. The Vice Chancellor of Riphah International University Prof. Dr. Anis Ahmed, in his welcomed address, said this event is designed not just for creating awareness about shariah conforming business principles but its major objective is to enhance talent and understanding of the practitioners and researchers on problems faced by the financial managers and the investors.

The conference held four working sessions on the opening day today on various subjects relating to the Islamic business and finance. These included equity, investments, trust and institution building for promoting Islamic finance and corporate governance of Islamic institutions. There will be four working sessions on Tuesday (today) besides the concluding session at 5pm at Quaid-e-Azam Auditorium Faisal Mosque campus in Islamabad. 

(Daily Times / 11 Feb 2014)
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Islamic Finance Helps Businesses, Developers, Investors Worldwide

Traditionalists pondering the Middle East may think of Lawrence of Arabia. Less traditionally, there’s the world’s most expensive Christmas tree, valued at over $11 million. Dubai recently lost its claim of having the world’s most expensive cocktail, but it still has the world’s most expensive bottle of red wine for sale at $195,000. Prince Al-Waleed even got bored with his $500 million dollar A380.
The Middle East is flush with cash, and wherever there is cash, people want to invest it to make more. Investments usually mean taxes, especially when the money travels to developed countries. The wealthy in the Middle East may not be content with the most expensive car in the world (crafted from over 1000 pounds of gold) or the world’s tallest building.
They also want investments–preferably Islamic investments that combine a nice return with an appropriate degree of religious compliance–to rake in even more money. The line between Islamic finance and traditional finance is blurring. Some may argue that Islamic finance is a ruse, or a denial of reality like an indoor ski slope in 120 degree weather.
Maybe, but big dollars are involved and the West wants some of them. Islamic financial assets totaled more than $1.3 trillion dollars in 2011 and are thought to now be in the range of $1.8 trillion. Dow Jones created an index to track Islamic investments.With wealth from the Middle East and Southeast Asia rapidly spreading to other countries around the globe, tax authorities worldwide are trying to get their cut.
Charging of interest is strictly banned for Islamic investments. But if you can’t charge interest under shari’a law, you can surely take a piece of the equity that might approximate the foregone interest and produce nearly identical risk profiles and returns.
Many countries in Europe would like to take advantage of this huge influx in cash, but there is a vexing problem with the taxation of these investments. How should one tax the unique structure of Islamic financial transactions? The U.K. is leading this discussion and has issued sovereign debt in an Islamic format.
Prime Minister Cameron’s government has recognized that even if it isn’t called interest, it should be taxed like interest, regardless of what an investor terms the money being paid. (“If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck….”) This doesn’t mean that Islamic investments are subject to different laws or that the rights and remedies of the parties will be radically different from the usual non-Islamic deal.
Of course, taxes are already a somewhat artificial concept. The tax laws are used to hybrids and synthetics, and there are broad tax doctrines such as substance over form and economic substance. Thus, tax systems can doubtless adapt.
Indeed, many countries are already rushing to make their tax laws consistent with these investments. What market could pass up on an investor with ready cash ripe for placement? Hungry economies, developers and governments from Australia to Hong Kong to Ireland have already hopped on the bandwagon.
We should expect to see further policy adjustments of this sort as Islamic finance becomes less a curiosity and more just another mousetrap for use anywhere in the world.
(Forbes / 30 Jan 2014)
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