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Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Emirates Zakat Fights Cancer

DUBAI – Reviving Islamic spirits of helping those in need, an Emirates-based organization is leading a fundraising campaign to collect Zakat, alms, for needy Muslim cancer patients in the rich gulf emirate.
“Zakat has been a tremendous source of hope for thousands of cancer patients in the UAE who need support to get through this life-changing illness,” the Friends of Cancer Patients Society (FoCP) founding member Ameerah Bin Karam told Gulf News on Monday, June 2.
“We are eternally grateful for the significant contributions received, and are appreciative of the concerned individuals and corporate houses for their generous donations to the zakat campaign, allowing us to save more lives.”
The new idea of using Zakat money was suggested by FoCP to provide funds for all major types of cancer.
The collected Zakat money will be allocated for treating patients of breast cancer, leukaemia, lung cancer, prostate and brain cancer.
The campaign also aims to provide funds for “medication – mainly chemotherapy and radiation costs, the cost of procedures done abroad, and the provision of prosthetic limbs and other medical equipment,” the NGO said.
To ensure the effectiveness of the initiative, patients will be reviewed and approved according to FoCP regulations and zakat rules.
Offering cancer-specific help to UAE residents for years, FoCP could provide funds for 169 patients in 2013.
The Emirati NGO has supported nearly one thousand cancer patients over the past 15 years.
Zakat, the third pillar of Islam, is obligatory upon every (capable) Muslim.
According to Islamic Shari`ah, a capable Muslim pays 2.5 percent mandatory payment and spend it to help the poor and the needy.
(On Islam / 03 June 2014)
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Bangladesh seeks sukuk rule amendments, sovereign issuance

Bangladesh's central bank is seeking to amend rules on its existing Islamic bond (sukuk) programme to broaden its use and allow for a sovereign issuance by the government, enhancing the prospects of Islamic finance in the country.
Bangladesh, a majority-Muslim country of 160 million, has developed Islamic finance with marginal regulatory support but a lack of Islamic capital market tools are limiting the industry's expansion.
A request for the amendments was now being considered by the finance ministry, which would allow sukuk to be used as a money market as well as a fiscal instrument, the Bangladesh central bank governor's spokesman A.F.M. Asaduzzaman told Reuters.
"Issuance of sukuk by the government is one of the major considerations in the proposed amendment," Asaduzzaman said.
The central bank has a small sukuk programme backed by legislation dating back to 2004, which issues short-term paper to help Islamic banks manage their liquidity, but a wide range of tenors is not available and there are no corporate sukuk.
The proposal comes after a report by the Malaysia-based Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) highlighted the need to develop sharia-compliant funding instruments such as sukuk in the south Asian country.
The IFSB report said a sharia-compliant lender of last resort facility and an Islamic deposit insurance should be developed in Bangladesh to support an Islamic finance industry which has doubled in size in the past four years.
The central bank is currently developing a lender of last resort framework for the entire banking sector which is expected by December of this year, with a sharia-compliant equivalent to be developed afterwards, Asaduzzaman said.
Islamic deposit insurance, however, was not under consideration with Islamic banks currently covered under the existing scheme managed by the central bank, he added.
The IFSB lists Bangladesh as one of a handful of countries where Islamic banking has systemic importance, an industry which follows religious principles such as a ban on interest and monetary speculation.

The country was gripped by political turmoil leading up to an election in January, with economic growth expected to slow to less than 6 percent in the financial year. In the previous year, the economy grew by 6 percent. 
(Reuters / 03 June 2014)
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Singapore sees bright prospects in Islamic finance

SINGAPORE: Singapore's prospects in Islamic finance look bright, with more funds establishing themselves here to tap the Islamic debt market, the Monetary Authority of Singapore's (MAS) top executive said on Tuesday (June 3).

"Singapore is the only non-Muslim majority country among the top 15 countries for Islamic finance," MAS Managing Director Ravi Menon said at the opening of the 5th World Islamic Banking Conference Asia Summit that is being held in the city-state.

"More funds continue to be established here, to meet demand from clients in Asia as well as from the Middle East, while several corporations have established sukuk programmes in Singapore to tap the market over the next few years," he added.

Sukuks are bond-like structures that comply with Islamic investment principles, which prohibit the charging or paying of interest.

Mr Toby O'Connor, the CEO of Islamic Bank of Asia said: "There is a lot of liquidity in the conventional space that the new Islamic products are competing with, but it's a huge opportunity. When you look at the wealth management space, there's a lot of liquidity coming into Singapore, a portion of that will go to Islamic finance, (and) when you look at sukuk, we've seen a number of issuances, programmes being set up".
Syed Abdull Aziz Syed Kechik, Director and CEO of OCBC Al-Amin Bank Berhad added, "Sukuk has arisen to become a key instrument for cross-border capital flows, driven by the ever-growing demand for Shariah-compliant investments that transcend borders. The sobering reality, however, remains that the current demand for sukuk outweighs supply about twice over".
Islamic finance has been growing by double-digits in recent years, making it one of the star performers in international finance. The industry has also become more international, as seen from recent sovereign Islamic bond issues by newcomers Britain and Hong Kong.

According to Mr Menon, global Islamic financial assets are estimated to have reached US$1.8 trillion by the end of 2013, up from US$1.5 trillion in 2012.

This is a sector that saw double digit growth last year, with more players jumping in to tap growing demand.
"As more countries cater for Islamic finance, the scope for cross-border Islamic finance increases. We are beginning to see more cross-border sukuk issuance within Asia as well as between the Middle East and Asia," he said.

In Singapore, Mr Menon said Islamic assets under management have surged nearly fourfold over the last five years.

There are now 15 banks in Singapore involved in Islamic banking, double the number five years ago. The city-state also had nearly 30 sukuk issuances to date, with seven in 2013 alone, he added.

However, Kuala Lumpur is currently the world leader in Islamic sukuk market, accounting for 60 percent of the global total.
To tap growing demand, Hong Kong and the UK have recently taken steps to facilitate sukuk issuance.
"These are very important initiatives from an Islamic finance perspective. When you have a sovereign taking the lead, you then have private sector also following suit. It would lead to other UK corporates looking to raise sukuks, (and then) lead to other corporates from other parts of the world looking to issue sukuks in London and similarly out of Hong Kong," said Mr Wasim Saifi, the Global Head of Islamic Banking in Consumer Banking and CEO of Standard Chartered Saadiq in Malaysia.
Industry players say the increase in trade flows between Asia and the Middle East as well as growing support for Islamic finance will provide significant opportunities. A key to tapping these opportunities lies in driving greater connectivity between the different markets.
According to the latest EY report, global Islamic banking assets are expected to grow to 3.4 trillion US dollars by 2018.
In particular, EY identified six rapid growth markets - Qatar, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, UAE and Turkey (QISMUT).
The consultancy expects Islamic banking assets with commercial banks to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 19.7% over 2013-2018 across the QISMUT countries, to reach US$1.6 trillion by 2018.

(Channel News Asia / 03 June 2014)
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