Displaying items by tag: Islamic Finance

Thursday, 21 January 2021 20:30

CME Webinar: Ethical Finance and Green Economy

21 January 2021
8:30pm (Malaysian Standard Time)
Venue: ZOOM
Published in Upcoming Events
17 December 2020
2:30pm - 04:00pm (Malaysian Standard Time)
Published in Past Events

Islamic Finance Instruments Can Replace US Dollar in Trade

US weaponization of the US Dollar and the international payment system of SWIFT has led to a push to look for alternatives as trust wanes in the green-back and its payment systems.

In response, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pushed the use of islamic finance “trade in national currencies has gained urgency. We should first of all put the issue of Islamic finance on our agenda.”

The Turkish president has previously called on other countries to end the “monopoly” of the dollar in global trade. US treasury chief Steve Mnuchin acknowledged “if we’re not careful, people will look at using other currencies.”

Iranian Banks removed from SWIFT

Us sanctions have removed Iranian banks from the SWIFT payment system crippling Iran’s ability to conduct foreign trade. Similar sanctions have impacted German firms working on a Russian-German pipeline.

Russia and China have set-up their own payment system to trade directly with each other and avoid the use of the dollar.

Increased Use of Gold and Local Currencies

The eight-nation member Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) includes China, Pakistan and Russia represents almost a quarter of global GDP. SCO members have been increasing their gold and foreign exchange reserves which now amount to nearly 4 trillion USD. At a finance ministers’ meeting in Moscow the SCO made a decision to conduct bilateral trade and investment in local currencies.

Use of Gold in Islamic Cultures

Gold is an attractive asset class and store of wealth passed through the generations in Asian cultures. Turkey and Malaysia have been at the forefront of Islamic financial gold banking and gold-based currency development.

The Malaysian states of Kelantan and Perak introduced gold dinar and silver dirham coins as a means of payment and for trade. Turkish Islamic bank, Kuveyt Türk (Kuwait Turkish Bank) began offering gold banking in 2007 and has collected over 26 tons of gold (worth around $1.2 billion – July 2019) and integrated it into the Turkish economy Current initiatives include an Islamic finance gold based crypto currency to better facilitate cross border trade.

Islamic Finance Gold Standard

In 2016 the World Gold Council and Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) approved the sharia standard for gold-based products with the objective of increasing the use of bullion in Islamic finance and the creation of new financial instruments. The standard addressed the use of collateral, and the exchange of gold in spot and deferred transactions.

 

Published in: Islamic Finance Foundation, 25 October 2020

Source: https://www.islamicfinance.com/2020/10/islamic-finance-offers-alternative-weaponised-us-dollar-swift/#/?playlistId=0&videoId=0

Although Islamic banks emerged relatively unscathed from the 2008 global financial crisis, VIDOC-19 has a deeper impact. However, this disruption could provide opportunities to diversify the sector and accelerate its expansion once the pandemic is over. Compared to conventional institutions, Islamic banks are more exposed to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), microfinance and retail lending, particularly in Asia. The economic performance of the major Islamic financial jurisdictions is expected to remain moderate for the rest of the year.

As a result, although the industry was previously on a strong growth trajectory in 2020, the rating agency Standard & Poor's predicted in June that it would record low to mid-digit growth in 2020-21, due to both the pandemic and the uncertainty of oil prices. In comparison, last year's growth of 11.4% was supported by a more dynamic sukuk (Islamic bonds) market and new growth opportunities. Nevertheless, Standard & Poor's believes that Covid-19 could unlock the long-term potential of the sector, arguing that the pandemic offers "an opportunity for more integrated and transformative growth with a greater degree of standardization, greater emphasis on the social role of the industry and significant adoption of financial technology".

Sukuk against the pandemic

Sukuk is a financial certificate similar to a bond in a conventional bank. It is a key element in the Islamic financial ecosystem. However, the sukuk market is more concentrated, smaller and less liquid than its conventional counterpart. In addition, the issuance process remains relatively complex and lengthy, and involves higher transaction costs.

In this context, the overall issuance volume is expected to decrease this year, although there will be a slight recovery after the sharp decline observed in recent months. Standard & Poor's expects issuance to reach $10 billion in 2020, compared to $162 billion in 2019. However, there are signs that the pandemic could lead to an expansion of the role of sukuk..

In June, for example, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) raised $1.5 billion with its first "Sukuk of Sustainability", designed to help the recovery of Covid-19 in its member countries. The proceeds will be used exclusively for social projects within the framework of the IsDB's sustainable financing, focusing on "access to essential services" and "SME financing and job creation".
Following the success of the sukuk, the President of the IsDB, Bandar Al Hajjar, then called on the Islamic financial industry to "promote sustainable and social sukuk as an alternative asset class that has the potential to counteract the multiple impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Several countries have begun to explore the potential of Islamic finance

Also in June, Indonesia issued a $2.5 billion global wakalah sukuk in three tranches, including a $759 million green sukuk dedicated to sustainable development.

The sukuk was oversubscribed by almost seven times the target amount. Its main objective was to support the government's coronavirus control programme, as well as to "strengthen Indonesia's position in the global Islamic financial market and support the development of Islamic finance in the Asian region," Dwi Irianti, director of Islamic finance at the ministry of finance, told local media.

Despite being home to the largest Muslim population in the world, Indonesia has not yet taken full advantage of Islamic finance. Therefore, sukuk is an encouraging sign that the potential of the sector is beginning to be tapped. Meanwhile, it was recently announced that Malaysia's Ministry of Finance will launch a RM500 million ($120 million) "Sukuk Prihatin" on 22 September. The revenue will be used to finance economic stimulus measures, as well as to help micro-enterprises, improve broadband coverage in schools and fund research into infectious diseases.

The post-pandemic future

While the coronavirus has caused headwinds across the industry, these examples show how it has also led to a greater awareness of the potential of Islamic finance. How can this momentum be maintained and strengthened as we enter the post-pandemic world?Digitisation and the increased importance of financial technology (fintech) are essential.

"Covid-19 has led us to accelerate the digital transformation that was already underway before the pandemic," Ayman Sejiny, CEO of ICD, told OBG. This will help widen access and increase the sector's social transformation role. In addition, fintech can increase standardisation, streamline processes, reduce costs and increase transparency, making Islamic financial instruments more competitive with conventional forms.

As far as sukuk are concerned, standardisation is particularly important, both in terms of the theory behind the vehicle and the legal documentation associated with it. Further standardisation will also enable Islamic banks to make progress in new areas. "Islamic finance now needs to explore new sectors such as health and tourism, in line with Sharia law. We need to work hard to develop appropriate Islamic banking products for these sectors," Sejiny told OBG..  

It is also possible that Islamic finance tools could play a greater role in promoting trade, which could help stimulate economic recovery in emerging markets.  "The Covid-19 epidemic has opened up new opportunities for Islamic financial markets, such as the provision of Sharia-compliant trade finance products, as well as trade development programmes to promote greater attention to social impact, sustainability, innovation and digitisation," Hani Salem Sonbol, Managing Director of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, told OBG. . 

So while Islamic banking continues to face significant headwinds related to Covid-19, the crisis could be a major turning point in the global growth of the sector. The economic performance of the major Islamic financial jurisdictions is expected to remain moderate for the remainder of the year.

Published in: atalayar.com, 16 September 2020

Source: https://atalayar.com/en/content/after-covid-19-what-next-step-islamic-finance

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has 57 member countries. The top 10 by GDP account for almost 73% of the OIC’s total GDP. Thus, the overall economic well-being of the Muslim world is dependent on the performance of these 10 countries.

Examining the performance of their currencies over the last 10 years for an indication of the relative well-being of the Muslim world paints a rather sombre picture. Two of the 10 countries, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have their currencies pegged to the US dollar.

A peg effectively renders impossible independent domestic monetary policy. With their exports being little else but oil, a USD-denominated commodity, exchange rate competitiveness is immaterial, thus the hard peg.

Examining the performance of the remaining eight countries’ currencies shows a common feature. All eight have depreciated substantially against the dollar compared with 10 years ago. The Turkish lira is down by about 390%; the Iranian riyal, 300%; Egyptian pound, 176%; Nigerian naira, 147%; Pakistani rupee, 93%; Indonesian rupiah, 67%; Malaysian ringgit, 35%; and Bangladesh taka, 22%.

The depreciation of a currency automatically erodes a nation’s terms of trade. It has to produce and export much more to purchase the same level of imports. In the longer term, imported inflation, capital flight and a host of other ills can plague the nation. That all eight countries have suffered substantial depreciation points to a systemic problem within the Muslim world.

Two of them, Turkey and Indonesia, should really be doing much better. Both have tremendous natural resources, low labour costs, well-diversified economies, and, in Turkey’s case, a well-developed industrial sector.

Furthermore, political leadership is strong in both countries and has undertaken serious reforms, particularly in fighting corruption. Yet, both their currencies have not only depreciated sharply over the last 10 years but also experienced episodes of high volatility.

Perception and other extraneous factors, rather than economic fundamentals, may be at work here. The question that arises is why, despite their underlying economic strengths, have these countries suffered disproportionate setbacks to their currencies?

The answer, perhaps, lies in the way they have funded growth. Both countries have been plagued by the twin deficits — current account and fiscal deficits. The need to fund these shortfalls adds more debt and reduces policy flexibility.

A feedback loop from foreign-sourced debt financing of development to the budget and current account deficits, arising from the need to service such debt — resulting in currency depreciation, imported inflation, interest rate hikes, a slowdown and more borrowing — entraps these nations within a vicious circle. A history of currency volatility and crises only makes foreign exchange markets hypersensitive to even the smallest policy change.

What is surprising is the continued use of the same policies and the inertia of policymakers to try alternatives, especially with the financing alternatives available in Islamic finance.

The risk-sharing contract, Mudarabah, can be modified to be an effective alternative to debt. Being terminal and with minimal ownership dilution, it provides funding benefits without the disadvantages of debt. As a profit/loss sharing contract, the absence of leverage means that when used to fund infrastructure projects, it imposes no fixed obligations. This provides an automatic stabiliser to government fiscal balances, especially during downturns.

Fixed debt-servicing requirements, even during downturns, cause capital outflows that accentuate current account deficits, thereby putting more pressure on a country’s currency. A large depreciation of the currency would result in sharply higher debt obligation to domestic entities that have sourced debt overseas.

If some of these entities were banks, a banking crisis could ensue. To prevent a meltdown, the central bank has to intervene in foreign exchange markets — either through purchase of the home currency, thereby eroding reserves, or sharply raising interest rates, potentially throwing the economy into a recession.

When debt accumulation is substantial within the economy, the latter option of raising interest rates is not even feasible. Debt simply reduces the policy options available and forces governments into a corner.

The result, as is the case in these countries, is a never-ending roller coaster of currency devaluation, economic restructuring, new debt-funded growth and balance-of-payment problems yet again. The risk-sharing alternatives of Islamic finance can offer these countries a way out.


Dr Obiyathulla Ismath Bacha is professor of finance at INCEIF ( International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance)

Published in: Forum, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on October 12, 2020 - October 18, 2020.

Source: https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/my-say-muslim-world-needs-get-currency-roller-coaster

26 October 2020 (Monday) 3:00pm - 4:30pm (Malaysian Standard Time)
 
Published in Past Events
Monday, 07 September 2020 13:00

Sustaining the performance of shariah funds

Shariah-compliant investments are known to be resilient and even tend to perform better than their conventional peers in troubled times. This was proven during the first half of the year, when the average returns of global and Malaysian equity shariah funds were higher than those of their conventional counterparts.

According to data by Morningstar, Malaysian equity shariah funds in the large-cap and mid- and small-cap categories provided average returns of -3.47% and -5.03% respectively from January to June 30. In comparison, Malaysian equity funds in the same categories provided average returns of -5.58% and -8.3% respectively. Shariah funds that invest in the broader Asia-Pacific ex-Japan region returned -1.38% over the same period, compared with their conventional counterparts’ -7.60%.

Year to date (as at Aug 12), shariah funds are still outperforming their conventional peers. Malaysian equity shariah funds in the large-cap and mid- and small-cap categories provided average returns of 7% and 13.11% respectively. In comparison, Malaysian equity funds in both categories provided returns of 5.87% and 6.55% respectively. Islamic funds that invest in the Asia-Pacific ex-Japan region returned 10.85%, compared with their conventional counterparts’ 1.67%

Meanwhile, global Islamic equity funds outperformed their conventional peers, ­albeit marginally, according to Lipper’s data for the six months ended Aug 7.

The performance of most asset classes took a big hit in the first quarter of the year as there was almost zero economic activity owing to the lockdowns imposed by governments around the world to stem the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Akmal Hassan, managing director of AIIMAN Asset Management Sdn Bhd, says against this backdrop, few asset classes were spared from the volatility.

“Similarly, the performance of shariah funds was also impacted. However, the shariah space fared relatively better due to the exclusion of the conventional banking, gaming, tobacco and alcohol sectors, which took a big hit and are likely to see a delayed recovery,” says Akmal.

Ismitz Matthew De Alwis, executive director and CEO of Kenanga Investors Bhd, notes that shariah funds in general have outperformed due to their lack of exposure to the banking sector and a higher weighting in defensive sectors such as healthcare and telecommunications. “As such, shariah funds in general have outperformed. Going into a recovery, the shariah outperformance could reverse as cyclical sectors such as banks rebound faster,” he adds..............to read the full article please click on the Source link below

Published in: The Edge Markets on Monday, 24 August 2020

Source: https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/cover-story-sustaining-performance-shariah-funds

03 September 2020 (Thursday)
14:00 - 16:00 (Malaysian Standard Time)
07:00 - 09:00 (London)
10:00 - 12:00 (Dubai)
 
Venue: Zoom Online
 
Published in Past Events

They say hard times bring out the best and worst in people. Long queues at Labour Department offices, soup kitchens and homeless shelters have become common sights after Covid-19 unleashed its wrath.

Covid-19 has shown us the frailty of the life we live and of the system that the capitalist ideology has built. This is exactly what our society has looked for as long as we can remember — a constant tug of war between the capitalist class and the working class.

The capitalist class represents the rich capital owners, owners of large corporations and of vast investment wealth.

It subjects the working population by buying labour at the labour market to service its capital through vehicles called corporations. Corporations have to borrow money since they cannot raise all the capital they need from issuing shares which means that another capitalist, the creditor, now has a staked interest in the corporations.

Banks, large money managers and other non-financial institutions participate in funding corporations through debt and equity. This combination of owner and creditor capitalist interests is put to the test during times like these.

Capitalism has created a hostile system where a corporation is threatened with the proceeding of its creditors against it if doesn't meet their demands.

Corporations scramble to save on any expenses they can to meet their debt payments and often resort to the easiest way to cut costs, laying off their workers.

With virtually no bargaining power, there's nothing workers can do when creditor interests are threatened.

Capitalists come first. They built the system and set the rules. Without employment, the economy comes to a virtual halt, which only exacerbates the predicament of creditors.

Consider Hertz, a car rental business which has run a very successful model for over 100 years withering due to the rise of unique and formidable compe-titors, such as Uber, and the ultimate foe of traditional business, technology.

There's one such adversary that Hertz could never hope to stand against: its creditors — large banks and other major corporations that have lent Hertz huge loans which it has failed to repay.

On the evening of May 22, Hertz filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for its United States business.

The typical procedure requires the reorganisation of assets and debts and the liquidation of certain non-inventory assets, perhaps at large losses, for the creditors to recuperate some of their capital.

The layoff of thousands of workers should come as no surprise. The failure of Hertz demonstrates a fundamental flaw of the capitalist system: its tendency to decimate perfectly good businesses and decades' worth of progress, all for the capitalist to recover a meagre portion of its investment.

Islamic finance attempts to relink the financial system to the real economy, strike a fine balance between asset-based and debt-based finance, and establish justice in the economic system through arrangements that do not allow the capitalist to wield such unfettered power.

Without profits, financiers are disincentivised to loan and in-stead opt to invest in ownership.

Consider if Hertz had instead issued sukukSukuk are essentially bonds, but which are not standing debt obligations.

Instead, they represent an investment in the ownership of the issuing corporation's assets which pay dividends. Sukuk are issued to raise capital which the investor pays and receives certi-ficates backed by the underlying assets, held by a trustee in the interest of sukuk holders.

Any proceeding against the issuer in the case of a failure would not necessarily be in the interest of the sukuk holders, especially if the business model, like that of Hertz, has worked for over 100 years! They may instead opt to allow the business to recover in hopes that the value of their certificates also recovers. Hertz could have been saved in this way.

Hertz is only a prelude to the great economic chaos that's
predicted to ensue as an inevitable consequence of the forces of Covid-19 and capitalism. While Islamic finance practice is far from ideal due to the pressures from the hegemony of conventional finance, it does provide an ideal solution, theoretically.

After 400 years of a failed capitalist experiment, it's only sensible that an alternative such as Islamic finance is considered.

The writer is a researcher in Islamic finance. He holds a BBA in Finance from the University of Toronto, a BA in Islamic law, and an MSc in Islamic finance from the International Islamic University of Malaysia

Published in: New Straits Times, June 19, 2020

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/06/601657/using-islamic-finance-may-have-saved-hertz-filing-bankruptcy

Tuesday, 21 July 2020 11:48

Islamic finance takes on COVID-19

As the global development community responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, a diverse and inclusive set of stakeholders must be engaged to address the enormous challenge. While the crisis has created immense human suffering, it has also sparked worldwide action from institutions and people eager to help.

The UN Secretary-General’s Call for Solidarity, on March 19th, outlines three components; tackling the health emergency; focusing on social impact in the response and recovery; and helping countries recover more sustainably for the long term.

UNDP’s Integrated Response to COVID-19 offers support and guidance to counties to prepare, respond, and recover. The immediate priorities identified in the response include health systems support, inclusive and integrated crisis management and response, and social and economic impact needs assessment and response.

Islamic finance can be part of the COVID-19 response through a range of financing instruments well-suited for each stage.  

Emergency support in the short term

Zakat can be an important component of national and NGO emergency support programmes. Donors typically require that Zakat be disbursed within one year of being given. This focus on immediate benefit is well suited for crisis response. Zakat donors support both the poor and the economically insecure, an area of increased need in the pandemic. Zakat donors often give cash transfers, which can be especially important in emergencies.

Individual philanthropy is a broad tool that can be used to support health care, food and other immediate needs. Corporate philanthropy can be a way for businesses to contribute not only money but also goods and expertise.

UNDP’s partnership BAZNAS, Indonesia’s national Zakat collection agency, has been in place since 2017. This collaboration is an example of how Zakat stakeholders can systematically link their projects with the Sustainable Development Goals, including in response to crises. UNDP’s partnership with the World Zakat Forum launched in 2019, lays the groundwork for members to work with UNDP on SDG alignment worldwide.

UNDP’s recently-announced partnership with the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Center is a reflection of how UNDP can support private-sector companies on social impact. UNDP has tools and frameworks by which firms can align their business activities and corporate giving with specific SDGs.

Response and recovery in the medium term

The financing of equipment, vehicles, and other sources of livelihood and trade finance are key mechanisms by which Islamic banks and financial institutions can support recovery. Aligning their financing activities with the SDGs is a significant opportunity for Islamic banks. In 2018, the Al Baraka Banking Group launched a collaboration with UNDP that seeks to align over US$600 million of its financing portfolio with the SDGs in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe. The coronavirus pandemic makes such initiatives all the more urgent.

Impact investing – private investment prioritizing businesses with social impact – can play a central role in the recovery. UNDP’s Global Islamic Finance and Impact Investing Platform, launched in 2015 in partnership with the Islamic Development Bank Group, brings global impact investing expertise to Islamic finance.

Long-term recovery and resilience

SDG-aligned sukuk (bond equivalents) can be an important source of long-term capital for governments and companies engaged in the COVID response and recovery. UNDP’s support of the Government of Indonesia’s Green Sukuk, including a US$1.25 billion issuance in 2018, is a prime example of how issuers can partner with UNDP to identity, track, and report on their SDG impact. They provide a decade of funding for Indonesia’s National SDG Plan.

UNDP has, through its Green Sukuk Initiative, held workshops and other outreach with partners in Malaysia, Pakistan, and beyond. As the pandemic has made long-term funding for development all the more crucial, UNDP stands ready to help.

Waqf endowments can, in many contexts, be important contributors to long-term resilience. Financial or non-financial assets such as land or buildings are permanently dedicated to social purposes. This can be an important way for stakeholders to contribute to social infrastructure that serves the SDGs and, in the words of the UN Secretary-General, help countries “recover better” over the long term.

This is a time for new ways to help tackle the devastation of COVID-19 and invest in  sustainable development. Islamic finance has the tools for each stage of the response. UNDP stands ready to help countries and communities unlock these vital partnerships and instruments to respond to the pandemic.

 

Aamir A Rehman, is a Senior Advisor on Islamic Finance, UNDP

Published in: UNDP.org

Source: https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2020/islamic-finance-takes-on-covid-19.html

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