SBP to intensify efforts towards promoting Islamic banking awareness

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The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) plans to intensify its efforts towards awareness and promotion of Islamic banking across the country to achieve a target of 15 percent share in overall banking industry by end 2017. Addressing the Islamic Finance Conference and Exhibition (IFEC) held here on Friday, Salim Ullah, Head of Islamic Banking Division SBP said the central bank had set new targets under five-year strategic plan for the Islamic Banking Industry (IBI).

The SBP has set target of double the volume of branches' network from 1,000 to 2,000 across the country and its share in the overall banking industry from 10 percent to 15 percent by end of 2017. He said the Islamic banking perception was not strong enough as it should be, but the central bank was working on step by step with the collaboration of IBI to gain the confidence of customers and business fraternity to attract them towards Sharia-based financing system. He urged for the joint and national level efforts for the promotion of Islamic banking in the country. "Islamic Banking should be a part of national agenda to promote Sharia-based financial system in the economy having potential to develop the economy and prosperity of the people," said Head of SBP Islamic Banking Division.

He said the central bank was already actively involved in resolving taxation and regulations issues of Islamic banks with SECP and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to provide more comfortable environment for better growth. The central bank was working to enhance capacity of the Islamic banks and Islamic Bank's Division of Conventional Banks through advisory and consultation hence the major issues of liquidity and asset building could be settled down in the coming years, he informed. Highlighting the role of Sharia advisors, Salim Ullah said Sharia advisers of Pakistan were considered more competent and strict compared with different Muslim countries. "Role of Sharia advisors in the promotion of Islamic banks is vital and commendable," he added.

He urged the business community to come forward and accept the ownership of the Islamic banking as it could not develop at faster pace without their co-operation and involvement in interest-free banking system. The future of the Islamic banking is bright in the country because the acceptance level of the Sharia-based system had been improved in a decade and a big section of the masses were well aware of this emerging banking and financial system, he added. Ebrahim Sidat, CEO and Country Managing Partner, Ernst & Young Ford Rohdes Sidat Hyder, said the Islamic financial system needed qualitative human resource, which could drive the market upon the true principles and injunction of Islam. "The human resource of the bank should be well trained for Islamic banking and their lifestyle and concept of life should be based on Islamic values," he added.

The Islamic financial system should be introduced in the curriculum from school to university level for massive awareness to enlighten masses about the economic system which are part of their faith and religion, he urged. Addressing the conference, Shamim Firpo, Senior Vice President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that conferences and exhibitions could play a vital role in the promotion of the Islamic banking industry in the country. He also urged the need to organise more conferences for fastest growth of the Islamic banking industry as it provided interactive platform to the industry professionals as well as educate the other stakeholder.

Firpo hoped the event would bridge the gap among bankers and professionals of Islamic financial industry and businessmen community hence it should be organised every year. "The business community is keen to seek a banking model which not only support their businesses but also multiply their investment on the principles of Sharia," he added.

Naeem Qureshi, Chairman organising committee and CEO of Publicity Channel, said more seminars, workshops and training programmes would be organised in the various cities in next couple of months for the promotion and awareness of Islamic financial systems. On the occasion, Muhammad Raza, Head of Consumer Financing Meezan Bank; Muhammad Zubair Haider Shaikh, Group Chief of Islamic Banking Group; Nusratullah Khan, Head of Islamic Banking Division UBL Ameen; Rizwan Atta, Head of Islamic Banking Division Bank Alflaha Limited; Fawad Farooqi, Head of Islamic Banking Division Barkt Faysal Bank; Ateeq ur Rahman, Mehmood Tareen and others also spoke. An expo of Islamic banking industry was also held sideline of conference for the promotion of Islamic finance products.

Courtesy: BR

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