بســم اللّـه الرّحمـن الرّحيــم
اَلحَمْـدُ لِلّـهِ رَبّ العَـالَمِـين، وَالصّـلاة وَالسّلام علـى محـمَّدٍ وَعلـى آلـه وَصَحْبِـهِ أجمـعـين
Madam Chairperson, Conference Organizers, Esteemed Speakers, Panellists, Respected Participants of this lovely Conference, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ
First of all, I would like to express my appreciation to Doctor Muneeza, the Chairperson of this Conference. And also UTO Edu Consult of Sri Lanka and the local host, Women on Board, Shafeega for giving me this opportunity to speak to this esteemed audience. As previous speaker has mentioned this is the second time I have come to this Conference. I always love to be involved Islamic finance. One, I’m also Muslim. Two, all my life I’ve spend in finance sector. Three, I had pioneering effort to bring Islamic finance to Maldives.
I welcome all respected international speakers to Maldives and also thank both local and international speakers for being here today to share their knowledge and experience. I hope I can also be with you to listen to the research work you have done and also the valuable information you provide. One day I think I will be with you. We are indeed very privileged to have you all with us.
This is the 4th time but not the last time we are holding the Islamic Banking and Finance Industry Conference in Maldives. The theme for this year is very I think strategizing, energizing theme “Strategizing the Maldivian Islamic Banking & Finance Industry for a Better Tomorrow” for better Maldivians. A better tomorrow for all the Maldivians. This is surely an important theme for the Maldives. I would say our Islamic finance industry is currently at its prime. Intellectual discourse through conferences as this is therefore essential to inject knowledge and expertise to the industry for it to flourish, become more vibrant and tailored to meet the requirements of Maldives.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we all know, the global Islamic finance industry has grown and expanded rapidly over the last decade. According to the World Bank statistics, If I am not mistaken Shariah-complaint financial assets are estimated around to 2 trillion USD and Islamic finance is already mainstreamed within the global financial markets. 2 trillion is nothing small. Our GDP I think if you compare our GDP at 2 trillion USD you can see the magnitude of this figure.
As other speakers mentioned there are 13 Islamic Institutions offering Islamic finance in Maldives. For a small country like Maldives, I would say this is a very good number. However, at this point in time, we need more competitive and innovative products, and Doctor Muneeza always come with me while I was in Ministry of Finance with all innovative products. And I have to agree with her always. Especially to cater to the mega economic projects and change the livelihood of marginalised segments of society. I would not agree with this one, particularly women in business and also small and medium-sized enterprises. I think our Registrar of companies is also there. She will also be very happy about this. This may be achieved through developing crowd-funding. I was wondering what is this crowd-funding. Platforms and using FinTech is also a very nice word but I have not gone through what FinTech means. I think Doctor Muneeza will give you what FinTech means. She’s just mentioned about using technology for Islamic products.
Since Women on Boards is the co-organiser for this conference, I am pleased to note that the increasing participation of women in the finance sector including the Islamic finance sector in the Maldives is commendable. Compared to other countries in the South Asia region, in Maldives, we do only have female Shariah scholars sitting in Shariah Committees. I think nobody can dispute this. And also, women playing an active role in promoting Islamic finance in the country. While I was sitting at the table I was surrounded by women. That shows how presence they are in Islamic finance. This is unique to Maldives and I believe it will make our country exemplary to the rest of the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Being a 100% Muslim country, the Government of Maldives recognizes the importance of Islamic economics for financing the development of this little nation. Maldives Centre for Islamic Finance MCIF and Hazana Maldives were set up exclusively for this purpose.
Through them and other relevant institutes, a number of Islamic finance products have already been launched in the country. As such, an Islamic microfinance scheme “Faseyha madhadhu” (I think Registrar is nodding her head) has been introduced, which is now in the process of being activated and also second corporate “Sukuk” has been issued by Housing Development Financing Corporation this month. I think Ms Raheema is here. She will know more about this.
The Government also recognizes the importance of tapping into the lucrative Halal market or Halal tourism segment. For this purpose, an island has already been allocated to the Maldives Centre for Islamic Finance to create a Shariah-compliant resort. And if there is any delay I think we can ask Doctor Muneeza and I think MCIF Chairman or I think CEO is also here.
This is the first time in the Maldives that we have initiated a project of this nature. It is my firm belief that through this, we can maintain the prominence and leadership that Maldives currently holds in the international tourism industry.
Additionally, this is the first time in the Maldives’ tourism history, that the revenue from a project will directly benefit the most disadvantaged people in the society. To achieve this noble objective, the profits from this project will go into a sovereign fund for the alleviation of poverty. Our Government envisions a prosperous country that shares the proceeds of growth with everyone to enhance the quality of life universally. We seek to foster a country that includes all our citizens.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At this momentous Conference, I am extremely proud to highlight our President Yameen’s vision to make Maldives the main hub for Islamic finance in the South Asian Region. I think todays the topic is this you can Strategize and also we can lead Islamic Finance Industry in south Asia.
With flexible and legal and financial infrastructure in place, Maldives is an ideal destination for a regional financial centre. We enjoy friendly relationships with all the countries in the SAARC, the Middle East and major economic powers, such as China. The geographical location and easy visa arrangements give us a competitive advantage over the rest of the players in the region. There are many other advantages. Maybe during the course of this conference we can share this.
Today, Maldives is witnessing an extensive economic transformation; a transformation that naturally utilizes huge sums of capital. The Government is working towards attracting more financial institutions to the country just a few minutes ago I was discussing with the Chairman of Women on Board, no, I think She is now Chairman of the Insurance company. She was discussing about bringing another Islamic bank to Maldives. I really like that Idea. With SEZ law that came into effect in 2014, we have the potential to champion Islamic finance in the region. I think there is a land allocated in Hulhumale.
Let this conference enhance our efforts and revolutionize our means towards developing our delicate economy through Islamic finance industry.
I would like to thank once again Doctor Muneeza, Shafeega and also I think Ishaarath and also AD consultant Akif and rest of the team for giving me this opportunity. Thank you for your invitation and I wish for fruitful discussions that will significantly contribute towards advancement of the Islamic finance sector in Maldives. Once again thank you.
والسّلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته