Thailand’s Islamic Bank offers Bt24 billion in loans to South



BANGKOK, Feb 18 (TNA) – The Islamic Bank of Thailand (IBT) will lend Bt24 billion to small business operators, tourism entrepreneurs and deserving students in the insurgency-troubled ethnic Malay culturally Muslim South, plagued with violence for over five years, bank president Thirasak Suwanayos said on Wednesday.

Under the instruction of the Ministry of Finance, the Islamic Bank will provide Bt15 billion to revive the economies of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat provinces plus the four Muslim-majority districts of nearby Songkhla province, Mr. Thirasak said.

The bank will extend Bt1 billion in loans to Muslim students who have inadequate family income to attend school, Bt5 billion to tourism operators aimed at boosting their cash flow and Bt3 billion to halal, or dietarily correct food for Muslim consumers with the objective to enable Thailand’s halal food producers to export more food to international destinations, he said.

Some 3,500 people have died due to the renewed violence in the southernmost border provinces since January 2004.

Deputy Finance Minister Pruttichai Damrongrat said the Islamic Bank of Thailand will offer loans as well as trade and investment advice on halal food because of the substantial size of the potential global market with a total value of about Bt6 trillion, a market that Thailand has only impacted minimally with just 1-2 per cent of the total market share.

Mr. Pruttichai said the bank is also tasked to seek funding from oil-rich Middle Eastern countries to invest in infrastructure improvements in Thailand, by issuing Islamic bonds worth US$500 million.

Thailand’s finance ministry has set up a working committee tasked to find ways to mobilise funds, while the Islamic Bank is prepared to offer financial advice the bonds, expected to be issued in the third quarter this year.

The bank will also seek Cabinet support for the Export-Import Bank of Thailand to be guarantor of lines of credit for halal food exporters totalling about Bt1 billion. (TNA)

Source : Asia Daily News


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