Kerala must tap Islamic funds for infrastructure development, say experts

VINSON KURIAN

Kerala could become a role model of tapping Islamic finance market to raise badly needed funds for infrastructure development, according to experts.

Mr H. Abdur Raqeeb, Convener, National Committee on Islamic Banking at the New Delhi-based Indian Centre for Islamic Finance (ICIF), made a strong pitch for these funds at the Infrastructure Conference-2011 that began here on Wednesday.

GOVT WELCOMES

Speaking to Business Line, the State Minister for Public Works, Mr V. K. Ibrahim Kunju, and the Secretary, PWD, Mr Manoj Joshi, said the State Government wholeheartedly welcomed Islamic funding agencies in the space of infrastructure development.

Infrastructure development is as Shariah-compliant a cause as they come, Mr Joshi said.

There is nothing that prevents these funds being channelised into the State’s developmental scheme of things, he added.

The PWD Minister concurred, but observed that the State’s own efforts to set up an Islamic financing institution were still in a ‘fluid stage.”

HIGH COURT ORDER

The Minister for Industries, Urban Development and IT, Mr P. K. Kunhalikkutty, too, underscored the importance of tapping the Islamic finance model at a time when traditional sources of funds are becoming either increasingly inaccessible or cost-prohibitive.

Meanwhile, Mr Raqeeb quoted a Kerala High Court observation that no specific prohibition was contained in any statute that made it impermissible to carry out Islamic banking in the country.

Simple regulatory changes could transform India into a regional hub for Shariah-compliant finance and clear the way for a much-needed wave of investment into its infrastructure, he added quoting international experts and consultants.

SHARED RISK

“When London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore and Paris have become Islamic banking hubs why can Kerala not become one and lead the country to become a developed economy in the near future?,” he wondered.

Islamic banking focuses on transparency, cooperative ventures, shared risk and ethical investing attracts a wide range of both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

In Malaysian Islamic banks, more than 40 per cent of investors and 60 per cent of borrowers are non-Muslims, mostly Chinese.

One in five applicants for some of the Islamic products is a non-Muslim in the Islamic Bank of Britain.

ISLAMIC BONDS

Asset-backed Islamic bonds, known as ‘Sukuks,’ provide funds for long-term investment.

This tool is used in a number of developing and developed countries. India too should seek to make use of these resources, Mr Raqeeb said.

The fact is, Islamic finance can do wonders. Post 9/11, petro-dollars have been actively eyeing for a safe investment destination.

And this is the opportunity that India should avail of, given that it is not just a safe but vibrant investment destination.

HUGE MONEY

An estimated $1.5 billion in funds is sloshing around West Asia as of now. The region will have $8 trillion to invest by year 2020.

Ms Muliani Indrawati, Managing Director, World Bank, has confirmed that the World Bank Group has ‘formally recognised Islamic finance and has designated it a priority area in their financial sector programme.’

The World Bank has always closely cooperated with the Islamic financial services sector. This demonstrates its commitment to help strengthen the institutional development of the industry.

source : Business line : The Hindu

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s