Manila steps up Islamic banking ‘to foster growth’

Filipino Muslims will have access to a wider range of Islamic banking services under a new law signed by President Rodrigo Duterte. (AP)
Updated 31 August 2019

Manila steps up Islamic banking ‘to foster growth’

  • The legislation is expected to pave the way for the entry of foreign Islamic banks into the Philippines

MANILA: Filipino Muslims will have access to a wider range of Islamic banking services under a new law signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The expansion of the Islamic banking system in the country will be carried out under the supervision of the Philippines Central Bank and its Monetary Board.

Muslims, including those in the autonomous Bangsamoro region in the southern Philippines, stand to benefit from the move, which central bank Gov. Benjamin Diokno said will “unlock the full potential of Islamic financing in fostering inclusive economic growth.”

Under the new law, conventional banks also will be allowed to engage in Islamic banking arrangements, providing they segregate the transactions from conventional business.

The legislation is also expected to pave the way for the entry of foreign Islamic banks into the Philippines.

However, the Monetary Board will regulate the number of participants in the Islamic banking system, taking into account the requirements of the economy, financial stability and the need for healthy competition.

Currently the Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines is the only Islamic lender operating in the country.

Diokno praised the new law, which he said will promote inclusive economic growth.

“With a well-defined regulatory framework now in place, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) looks forward to seeing greater participation in Islamic financing by both domestic and foreign banks,” he said.

“This is expected to widen opportunities for Muslim Filipinos, including those from the Bangsamoro region, in accessing banking products and services. This is a great stride in our financial inclusion mandates.”

An interagency working group has been set up to develop a regulatory framework for Islamic banking and finance.

According to the BSP, Islamic banking and finance promote growth by making finance available to groups that avoid using conventional banking facilities due to their faith.

Muslims make up about 10 percent of the population of the Philippines.

Islamic banking and finance can also be attractive to non-Muslims, particularly investors within or outside the Philippines looking for new asset classes, instruments and products to diversify their portfolios.

Suicide bomber kills 18 in Afghan capital

Updated 24 October 2020

Suicide bomber kills 18 in Afghan capital

  • There has been an upsurge in violence between Taliban and Afghan forces in the country
  • The US signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February, opening up a path toward withdrawing American troops from the conflict

KABUL: A suicide bomber struck near an education centre in the Afghan capital on Saturday, killing at least 18 people in the latest attack to rock the conflict-wracked country.
Violence on the ground has spiked in recent weeks despite the Taliban and the Afghan government holding peace talks in Qatar to end the country's grinding war.
The suicide attack, which also wounded 57, happened late afternoon at the centre, which offers training and courses for students in higher education in a western district of Kabul.
"A suicide bomber wanted to enter the education centre," Tareq Arian, spokesman for the interior ministry, said in a statement.
"But he was identified by the centre's guards after which he detonated his explosives in an alley."
He said the attack had left at least 18 people dead and 57 wounded.
"I was standing about 100 metres from the centre when a big blast knocked me down," said local resident Ali Reza, who had gone to hospital with his cousin who was wounded in the blast.
"Dust and smoke was all around me. All those killed and wounded were students who wanted to enter the centre."
Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack.
Residents in several districts of western Kabul belong to the minority Shiite Hazara community, often targeted by Daesh militants. 
In the past, extremists have targeted several education centres and other facilities in the area.
In May, a group of gunmen launched a brazen daylight attack on a hospital in west Kabul that left several mothers dead. The gunmen were shot dead after hours of fighting with security forces.