16th Dec, 2016: Round Table Session on "Islamic Finance Opportunities in CPEC and Beyond"
IBA Centre for Excellence in Islamic Finance conducted a Round Table Session on "Islamic Finance Opportunities in CPEC and Beyond" on the 16th of December, 2016.
In attendance were CEOs and Head of Departments of a number of Financial Institutions, Regulator and Academic Institutions which included, but aren't limited to, Mr. Ghulam Muhammad Abbasi, Director Islamic Banking Division State Bank of Pakistan, Mr. Irfan Siddiqui, CEO Meezan Bank, Mr. Nasir Ali Syed, CEO Pak Qatar Takaful Limited, Mr. Muhammad Shoaib Ibrahim, CEO First Habib Modaraba, Mr. Ashraf Bava, CEO Nael Capital, Adnan Fasih, Group Head IBD of Habib Metropolitan Bank and others.
Mr. Ahmed Ali Siddiqui, Director of the Centre for Excellence in Islamic Finance started off the proceedings with an introduction to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the role of Islamic Financial Institutions and what it means for Pakistan.
Mr. Irfan Siddiqui, CEO of Meezan Bank, spoke about the corridor and how China has allocated USD 46 Billion and has asked for a further USD 6 Billion to be invested. He also spoke about Gawadar and how it has become extremely necessary to develop cohesion between the two nations.
Dr. Sulaiman Liu, Senior Partner from Al-Sadiq Consulting Limited spoke about Islamic Financing options and opportunities that are necessary in order to give the Corridor the necessary push. Showing the overall geographical terrain Dr. Liu explained how this is an opportunity for Pakistan to increase international and local opportunities from other parts of the world, especially Honk Kong and Dubai. He also mentioned a summit which will be held next year in China, which would be an opportunity to develop ideas for Pak-China Islamic Banks, Takaful Companies and so on. He also mentioned how Hong Kong, even though not a Muslim Country, has been issuing Sukuk since 2014, and another in 2015, both of which are oversubscribed. They have been offering Islamic Financing since 2007.
Mr. Abdullah Han, also a Senior Partner from Al-Sadiq, spoke about how the 30 million Muslim population of China was devoid of any Shariah Compliant alternative to b;8anking in China due to regulatory challenges. He also pitched the idea of gaining a Liquidity Pool for Sukuk from Islamic Capital Markets like Dubai and Kuala Lumpur.
Mr. Ghulam Abbasi, Director of Islamic Banking at State Bank of Pakistan, spoke about how Islamic Finance in Pakistan faces a major issue of liquidity development, for which CPEC is a golden opportunity especially for Sukuk. He emphasized on building a platform where specific action points can be discussed. According to Mr. GM Abbasi, support will always be available from the regulators, however to maximize on their potential, key target points and an action plan needs to be properly developed.
Mr. Ahmed Ali Siddiqui concluded the session by appreciating the work being down for the economic development in the region. He remarked that sessions like these between Pakistan and Chinese industry partners should continue in future, so that we can have a practical action plan for gaining maximum benefit out of CPEC. He invited the Chinese guests to a further event to be hosted in January to discuss the Islamic Finance opportunities in CPEC. He also said that the idea of issuing multicurrency Sukuk to finance CPEC infrastructure projects was very attractive, with the added advantage of avoiding foreign currency risk for both Pakitani and Chinese investors.