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Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Pakistan: Government committed to nurturing Islamic finance

LAHORE: Federal Minister for Finance Mohammad Ishaq Dar said on Monday the government believed in the supremacy and utility of Islamic finance for inclusive development and socio-economic well-being of the masses. 

“We are fully committed and determined to nurture the Islamic finance industry on sound foundations”, he said while addressing the inauguration ceremony of second Global Forum on Islamic Finance at Lahore campus of COMSATS Institute of Information and Technology. 

Dar said a steering committee on promotion of Islamic banking had been formed with representation from all key stakeholders for formulating a comprehensive framework to address challenges and hurdles, which were adversely affecting the growth momentum of industry. 

The committee would also suggest a roadmap and timeframe for progression of various phases of the Islamic banking in the country, he said and added that the government had also formed a steering committee on Qarz-e-Hasna. 

“The government is, thus, fully committed to facilitate and nurture development of Islamic finance industry on sound footings through an enabling policy and regulatory environment,” he added.

Ishaq Dar said the efforts of this Forum in disseminating scholarship on Islamic economic system to cope with the current financial challenges were admirable. 

He hoped that the Centre of Islamic Finance would perform research, impart training and strengthen the syllabi of Islamic finance and, thus, play an instrumental role in bridging the gap between academia and industry.  

He said the Islamic finance industry constituted over 10 percent of the country’s financial system and maintained strong growth momentum, but it, however, was below the huge potential. 

“We are a country of over 180 million people, predominantly Muslims, with a significantly large population excluded from the financial system due to, among others, faith sensitivities of the masses; a large agricultural base which meets its financial services needs largely from informal players as only 20 percent of the farmers have access to the formal financial system; and just 5 to 6 percent of SMEs having access to bank financing,” added the minister.

He said the country’s banking system had taken the initiative to develop financial instruments, in keeping with the spirit of the Islamic economic system. 

He said Islam provided a complete code of conduct and gave solutions for all spheres of life. “Adherence to Shariah principles will not only help us in achieving financial system stability and broad-based welfare of the masses, but will also help us in pleasing Allah,” he added. 

(Daily Times / 11 March 2014)
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