Canada: Clarifying The Status Of Islamic Home Finance In Canada

Article by Gar Knutson  and Jeffrey S. Graham 

This week the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released a research report entitled “Islamic Housing Finance in Canada”. The report analyses Islamic housing finance in a sampling of countries throughout the world, including common law and civil law jurisdictions, in order to draw parallels with the Canadian legal system. The report then examines the development of Islamic finance in Canada and the potential legal and regulatory obstacles that arise.

The report first surveys the principles of Islamic finance and compares how Islamic finance compares with conventional finance. Next, the report considers the application of Shariah to mortgage lending internationally, noting that it is more state centric and less internationalized than other forms of Islamic finance and investment. It is noted that in recent years a number of companies have begun offering Shariah compliant home financing options in Canada and that the Canadian experience is not unique and that the experience of other countries applying Shariah principles to mortgage lending are illustrative of how the product develops. The report finds that in certain jurisdictions such as the UK and New Zealand governments have passed laws to facilitate Islamic housing financing while in others, notably the US, Australia and France, these finance instruments are being offered without significant legislative changes. Further it is noted that there are no significant differences among states with English common law systems, including the UK, the US and Australia, and states with civil law based legal systems, including France, Turkey and Lebanon.

The state of Islamic housing finance in Canada is surveyed. It is noted that the Shariah complaint mortgages were first offered in Canada by housing cooperative organizations. More recently, the market has been serviced by specialized lending institutions that have obtained funding from third parties such as conventional financial institutions and on-lent those funds by way of Islamic mortgages. It is noted that the interface of Shariah law with the Canadian legal system does not, in and of itself, create any particular issues and that Canadian real property law would continue to apply to the property that was the object of the transaction. Further, it is noted that there are no contract or other requirements that cannot be met using conventionally drafted legal instruments that are fully enforceable under the laws governing the contract, if such law is the law of a Canadian province. Depending on the structure, landlord-tenant laws may be implicated and certain of the rights of the parties determined in accordance with the requirements of that legal regime. In addition, the report discusses briefly the application of land transfer, commodity and capital gains taxation in the context of Islamic mortgages.

The report also considers the ability of banking organizations in Canada to provide Islamic housing finance. It concludes that most product offerings in the realm of housing finance would not be prohibited within the existing regulatory regime for Canadian chartered banks and other federally regulated financial institutions.

It is fair to say that there is growing interest in the topic of Islamic finance in Canada. With a prominent and growing Canadian Muslim community and strong and innovative financial sector, there is every reason to believe that Islamic finance will continue to grow in relative terms in Canada. Among the developments that can be anticipated, it should be noted that an Islamic Finance Working Group (IFWG) has been established by the Toronto Financial Services Alliance, a unique public-private partnership with a mandate to enhance and promote the competitiveness of Toronto as a premier international financial centre. The IFWG is considering the opportunities and challenges in helping to promote the development of Islamic finance in Canada. The report of the IFWG is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

Source : mondaq

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Strategy for payroll race by Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam

As the race for payroll heats up among conventional banks, Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) is not sweating as it cobbles together a strategy it will launch next month, the Islamic bank’s top executive yesterday said.

Saved Ahmad, BIBD acting managing director, in an interview with The Brunei Times, said that “fundamentally we are not convinced that that’s what we want to go for (other banks’ lucky draw promotions), so don’t wait for something similar for us. We are hoping to have something different and of course it will be attractive.”

When asked whether BIBD is losing payrolls to conventional banks, Saved said that everyone reading the advertisements would know that they are only for the short term. lie believes that over the longer term, customers value longterm relationships and benefits they are going to get.

“There may be some customers who might actually be excited about the ongoing promotions out there, but I believe that our customers are far … smarter than that. With that said, it is actually a competitive environment and it is important for every bank to provide what they actually believe is the best in the end for their customer. We’ll see,” he added.

As for BIBD’s credit card line, Saved said that BIBD has a card which works overseas and locally but aren’t going to stop there. “We want to continuously improve our product and service proposition to make sure it is actually on par with international standards. I think overall, we look at financial services in a more holistic matter and purely to focus on credit cards as a tool to win all the customers’ financial requirement, in my view, is totally flawed.

Having said that, there are banks who generate all their revenue from credit retail so it is their livelihood,” Saved explained. Hjh Nurul Akmar Hj Jaafar, BIBD’s head of sales and distribution channel, said that at the moment, the bank is progressively looking at introducing new options and it’s in the pipeline. “Insyaallah, we will make sure that the proposition is at par with other international banks.”

Javed said that BIBD’s current offering is the cheapest credit card in the country. “If a customer saves seven per cent per annum, they are far far better off than even the lucky draws being offered. Being seven per cent cheaper is not even on a compounding basis, which makes us the cheapest card in Brunei, not to mention, we are the only bank in the country that has a cash back for amounts used or invested. We give customers a certain percentage back in terms of cash,” he said.

He cited that if a customer is having financial difficulty, on S10,000 used, he would be able to save $700 per year.

“I think that’s the main emphasis for us – points, how much points can you actually accumulate? Lucky draw winners, how many $10,000 winners can a bank offer? And is it on a monthly basis, yearly?” he added.

BIBD’s aim is to help customer save, said Hjh Nurul Akmar, adding that the bank is educating customers especially those who are tempted by promotions from conventional banks. “You need to look into the fine print where there are charges for interest at conventional banks. We ask customers if they really understand the terms and conditions behind this and we want them to make their decisions based on longterm benefits not these current promotions,” she said.

When asked whether there would be customers who jump between banks to get more chances of winning the lucky draws, Javed said that customers understand they are not all going to get the rewards and think that overall, there is a need to make sure it is inclusive not exclusive.

“The process of moving one’s salary is not easy and it costs. Clearance letters from banks are not cheap so what we worry most is not about the promotion, but the fear that our customers might fall into much deeper debt. That is our biggest fear,” said Hjh Nurul Akmar.

Javed said BIBD is the first bank to scrap the concept of a balance certificate and letters of transfers since more than a year ago. “If a particular customer is unhappy with the bank’s service, they are going to be even more unhappy if they have to pay a large sum to move his or her account to another. So, we were the first one to say that this is totally unfair to customers and we got away with it,” Javed said.

source : The Brunei Times

First Islamic Finance and Investment Forum for the Middle East In Jordan

The First Islamic finance and investment forum for the Middle East is going to be held at King Hussein Bin Talal conferences center in the Dead Sea region in Jordan on the March 2nd and 3rd with the participation of Syria.

A group of investors and businessmen will participate in the forum, which is held under the title “Shaping the Future of Islamic Finance”.

Countries participating in the forum in addition to Syria and the host State Jordan are the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Tunisia, Algeria, Yemen, Djibouti, Sudan, Iran, Cyprus, Malaysia, Britain and USA.

The Islamic Finance and Investment Forum for the Middle East (IFIF 2010), in its first edition, is a regional high-ranking gathering dedicated to Islamic Finance and Investments in the Middle East. More than 550 participants mainly from the Middle East, South East Asia and Europe will have rich networking opportunities through a multidimensional event gathering.

The key topics to be covered include: Islamic funds and alternative investments, reality of Islamic finance in the Middle East, the driving forces of global Islamic banking, the attractiveness of the Sukuk market, Islamic finance: problems and challenges, development and the future of the Islamic finance sector, and Islamic finance and financial crisis.

source : sana

Crean pushes for Islamic banking in Australia

Malaysia was trying to position itself as an Islamic financial hub, he said.

“We can be at that game,” he told ABC Television on Friday, adding that Australia was home to more than 300,000 Muslims.

Mr Crean is launching a study outlining opportunities for the financial services sector to tap into Islamic investment and banking markets.

Islamic law does not allow for a financial instrument to pay interest.

Mr Crean said that might require products that offered an exchange or profit-share arrangement.

The government wanted to create an environment in which Australia was more innovative.

“The big opportunity is in Islamic finance because there is a whole

population out there that is based on Islamic law.”

source : sbs

Tamkeen and Ernst & Young launch CIMA Post-Graduate Qualification in Business Accounting and Islamic Finance

TamkeenTamkeen, Ernst & Young Middle East, and The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the world’s largest and leading professional body of management accountants, today launched its Post Graduate Qualification in Business Accounting and Islamic Finance in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Tamkeen and delivered by Ernst & Young , is a one year programme consisting of the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting and the CIMA Certificate in Islamic Finance – both established business qualifications in their own right that are international in scope. The programme will arm 130 Bahraini graduates with the skills and knowledge required to help fulfill the need for 1,340 banking and investment specialists in Bahrain, based on the Skills Gaps survey conducted by Tamkeen      

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Speaking at the launch, Aubrey Joachim, President of CIMA, said: “This innovative qualification aims to address the need in Bahrain for qualified finance professionals who are able to operate internationally. The programme will provide foundation knowledge of global business and accounting skills complemented with a wider knowledge of Islamic Finance, which is increasingly gaining recognition across the world.”

Tamkeen’s Vice-President for Human Capital and Enterprise Development Dr. Ahmed Abdul Ghani Al Shaikh said: “We are proud to witness the rapid progress of our ambitious plan to train 130 Bahraini graduates in Islamic finance and business accounting. We trust that with the support of our partners Ernst & YoungErnst and , who will deliver the one-year training programme that enables graduates to be qualified and certified from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, we will be able to achieve our goals of equipping Bahrain with qualified professionals who will serve the country’s growing banking sector and human capital demands.”

The goal of diversifying the economy and driving growth requires qualified professionals well versed in global best practices and with an understanding of the global economy; something this certification will provide to aspiring finance professionals in Bahrain. This qualification will help drive future progress where, as the Economic Vision states, productivity and proportion of high-wage jobs in the financial sector will be a benchmark for other sectors.

The programme was designed to align with the needs of Bahrain’s finance sector and the country’s 2030 Economic Vision. Those completing the programme will be able to contribute to the nation’s goal of Bahrain growing to become an even stronger international financial hub. The Post Graduate qualification will enable its graduates to operate on a global platform, helping drive Bahrain towards its economic targets.

Study showed an urgent and growing need for Islamic finance professionals with a relatively low number of Bahrainis currently employed in the sector making one of the major challenges facing Islamic finance the lack of a trained national workforce.

Tamkeen to execute their ambitious plan to train Bahraini graduates. Ernst & Young Middle East and Tamkeen have a successful track-record of collaboration in the task of equipping Bahrainis with qualifications needed to fulfill the leadership’s Vision 2030 put forth for the country’s development efforts.

The programme, designed for Bahraini nationals who have graduated within the last 5 years from any field of study, will begin in May 2010. Aside from having graduated within the last 5 years applicants must demonstrate knowledge of English and Mathematics and sit through a competitive exam and an oral interview to be selected.

Source : p2u

Bank Islam and Affin conclude RM300m deal for college

Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd this morning concluded a syndicated Islamic financing facility of RM330 million for Kedah Sato Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bina Darulaman Bhd (BDB), for the construction and development of a permanent campus for Kolej Universiti Insaniah (KUIN) in Baling, Kedah.

Bank Islam, the lead arranger, completed the exercise with the participation of Affin Islamic Bank Bhd as co-arranger. Bank Islam’s syndication is RM200 million, while Affin Islamic’s portion is RM130 million.

The facility will be used to finance the total construction and development and other costs relating to the KUIN project. Under the financing structure, Kedah Sato shall settle the facility over 15 years, inclusive of a three-year grace period.

The agreements for the facility were signed this morning between Kedah Sato, Bank Islam and Affin Islamic. The event was witnessed by Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak.

“The syndicated financing will contribute to the economy of the State. Currently, Kedah is experiencing economic growth at a very exhilirating rate representing five per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), and foreign direct investment (FDI) and a strong potential in its major industries which are hi-tech,
bio-tech and manufacturing sector.

Bank Islam managing director Datuk Seri Zukri Samat said, Bank Islam had also provided the financing for KUIN’s present campus, comprised of shop house buildings located at Lebuhraya Sultanah Bahiyah, Alor Setar.

KUIN, an institute of higher learning for Islamic studies, has a current enrolment of over 4,000 students. KUIN’s new campus will cater to the expansion and growth of the college as well as the growing student population.

source : mmail.com

Islamic banking defies crisis with global launches

More Islamic banks and financial products have been launched worldwide since late in 2008 despite the global banking crisis that restricted conventional banks from doing so.

Joseph DiVanna, managing director of UK-based consulting and advisory firm Maris Strategies, said in this month’s issue of The Banker that Shariah-compliant banks were performing better than conventional banks.

Islamic banks focus on ethical investing; speculative financing and trading is forbidden. This makes Islamic banks highly dependent on customer deposits for their liquidity.

“This in turn makes them less susceptible to changes in credit markets,” according to DiVanna.

South Africa stands to benefit from Muslim investors who want new markets in southern Africa, which presents one of the best platforms on the continent for growth in Islamic banking products following the regulatory restrictions that were put on these products.

This could be the reason Absa Capital, the investment banking division of Absa, launched South Africa’s first Shariah-compliant equity-linked exchange traded fund (ETF) on Thursday.

The banking group said that the initial public offering for the NewFunds Shariah Top40 index ETF had opened on Monday. The ETF will be listed on the JSE on April 6.

The Shariah Top40 index ETF tracks the FTSE/JSE Shariah Top40 index, jointly established by London’s FTSE International and the JSE.

Vladimir Nedeljkovic, head of ETFs and index products at Absa Capital, said that the Shariah Top40 index ETF was a first for South Africa. It was expected to redefine the Muslim investment landscape in the country.

“This ETF is a cost-efficient, transparent and easy-to-access investment product that conforms to the principles of Shariah law,” said Nedeljkovic.

He expected the product to do well in a market that urgently required more local Islamic investment products to service the estimated 400 000 Muslim households in South Africa.

“The Shariah Top40 index ETF provides investors with diversified exposure to the broad market through investing in one Shariah-compliant ETF share and earning a market related performance,” he said.

Absa Capital’s NewGold ETF, the biggest ETF in the South African market with about R9 billion in assets, is also Shariah-compliant. It has been approved by the Shariah supervisory board.

“Islamic banks were generally not impacted by collateralised debt obligation or asset backed securities,” DiVanna said.

Since November 11, new Islamic banks had been formed, including the United Arab Emirates’ first Islamic commercial bank, the Ajman Bank.

DiVanna added that while banks in the developed world had curtailed their expansion, 23 Islamic banks had extended their operations into new countries such as Botswana, Iraq, Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Africa, Sudan and Syria.

Qatar National Bank opened a full-service branch in Singapore and the Arab Bank opened a branch, specialising in Islamic banking, in Qatar.

South Africa has been offering Islamic banking since 1989 and all big four banks are developing or offering Islamic products.

 

source : busrep