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Wednesday, April 23, 2014  

Oman’s Islamic banking on growth path
Staff Reporter

MUSCAT Islamic banking services in the Sultanate will witness robust growth in the coming days as the central bank will develop general rules and regulations to ensure good governance in these banks, said HE Hamoud Bin Sangour Al Zadjali, Executive President of the Central Bank of Oman, while speaking at the Oman Islamic Economic Forum being held at Al Bustan Palace Hotel on Saturday.

However, Islamic banks should ensure that their banking transactions are sharia compliant, he added.

These banks need to follow assorted accounting standards in certain cases that are acceptable by the parties who are trading in the stock markets and are in line with international standards, he said.

The CBO will review regulatory issues at the legislations which came into force in the first quarter of 2011 and will revise the legislations from time to time based on the developments at the local and world markets.

While elaborating on the functioning of Islamic banking, he said these banks are not isolated from traditional banks and the central bank, the regulator of the banking sector, will keep a link between Islamic banks and other banks. However, it will be a real challenge now and in future.

While talking about the future of the Islamic banking, Prof. Humayan Dar, CEO, Edbiz Consulting and chairman of the Forum, said that the size of Islamic banking industry in the world is expected to touch around $1 trillion, a rise of 7 per cent, in near future. He said while traditional banks have been affected by the global financial crisis in the past two years, the Islamic banks managed to remain immune. 

Dr Abdul Aziz Mohammed Al Hinai, deputy chairman of the Islamic Bank for Development, said Islamic banks, which have witnessed robust growth since their launch, are facing challenges in developing a relationship among them, the central bank and other regulatory bodies. Creating a proper supervisory system for the Islamic financial industry, diversification of Fatwas issued by Sharia Audit authorities, lack of standard criteria for contact, lack of efficiencies and talent crunch are also posing major challenges to these banks, he added. 

HE Sheikh Dr Kahlan Bin Nabhan Al Kharousi, the Sultanate’s Grand Mufti, said that the Sultanate seeks to learn from other countries’ experience in Islamic banking to avoid shortcoming and help financial and Takaful insurance companies that provide sharia-compliant products. 

While talking about the establishment of legislative centres that will grant approval to Islamic banks, Al Kharousi said that banks need to fulfil three guidelines such as a legal framework, managing operations that ensure the provision of Sharia-compliant services and products and efficient and qualified human resources. 

The applications require three levels of audit and sharia advice, on top of which is the Central Sharia Authority that lay the general principles and bases for the different sharia compliant activities; this is equal to bonds in capital markets in the Sultanate, he added. 

Sharia committee will be in charge of developing details of daily transactions and ensure that they are compatible with the main restrictions. The Ifta house provides advice to decision-makers to ensure that the products are genuinely Sharia complaint. 

In response to a question about restructuring of debts in the Islamic way, he said that this may be offered by Islamic banks to help people get rid of usurious transactions. The Islamic windows which will be opened here seek profits, hence the services offered by these windows will be based on sharia contracts.

Tun Abudllah Bin Haji Ahmed Badawi, former prime minister of Malaysia, said that there is a need for global standards in Islamic banking and finance to help it emerge as an international alternative in the sector.

Various countries have their own standards of Islamic banking and financial system. But this creates lots of difficulty in its progress, he said.

Khalid Bin Hilal Al Yahmadi, chairman of Amjad Development Company, said that researches and studies conducted found that principles of transactions at the Islamic economy provide satisfactory and fair solutions for the society.

More than 2 billion rials (over $5 billion) are semi frozen money or interest free deposits. This amount accounts for one-third of the total deposits at local banks. He pointed out that one of the studies affirmed that two-third of the Omani society prefer to deal with financial solutions that are Sharia compliant. 

The two-day forum, organised by Amjad Group, was held under the auspices of HH Sayyid Shihab Bin Tariq Al Said and was attended by ministers, honoruable members of the State Council and Shura Council, undersecretaries, executive presidents of banks operating in the Sultanate and Islamic banking institutions from outside the Sultanate.

With inputs from ONA
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