The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) and Bangladesh Bank has successfully organised a "Seminar on Prospects and Challenges in the Development of Islamic Finance for Bangladesh" on 23 and 24 September 2013 in Dhaka.
This Seminar is part of the IFSB Seminar on Islamic Finance series which are held in jurisdictions wishing to explore the prospects, opportunities and best practices of Islamic finance. It aimed to create greater awareness on the latest developments on the Islamic financial services industry, and to discuss the issues in further augmenting its role in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Bank's Governor H.E. Dr. Atiur Rahman, in his Keynote Address, highlighted the role that Islamic finance can play in the development of the emerging markets. He stated that, "With its ethical, inclusivity promoting and stability enhancing attributes, Islamic finance undoubtedly bears promise of playing a major beneficial role in our socioeconomic development". He emphasised that the inclusive nature of Islamic banking is evidenced in its growth and is already significant engagement in the agriculture, SME and microfinance sectors in Bangladesh. He also outlined the usefulness of Sukuk for "financing of Bangladesh's much needed infrastructure projects". On the regulatory framework for Islamic banks, the Governor cited the close cooperation between the central bank and market participants, which has resulted in developing a fairly comprehensive set of the guidelines and regulations. He also applauded the "standards developed by the IFSB on various aspects of Islamic finance that have been crucially helpful" in strengthening the regulatory framework.
In his Special Address, the Minister of Finance of Bangladesh inspired the audience by providing his personal insights into the inclusive nature of Islamic finance and the role it can play to take the masses out of poverty. He outlined that in order to achieve the higher aims of society, a collective effort by various players is necessary. He stated that regulators should provide due support and level playing field to Islamic financial institutions as they serve to achieve the socioeconomic objectives of the society.
Referring to the contribution of Islamic finance to global growth and stability, Mr. Jaseem Ahmed, the Secretary-General of the IFSB outlined in his Opening Address that Islamic finance contributes directly to real sector growth and widens consumer choice. He illuminated the role Islamic finance can play as a means for financing of physical and social infrastructure that supports economic development and job creation, most importantly through Sukuk. For this reason, he reiterated, integrating Islamic finance into public spending and public financing programmes will be helpful. On the regulatory framework, Mr. Ahmed pointed out that a collaborative effort between the supervisory authority, policy-makers and market players is key to maintaining the balance between strong regulation and the market's ability to grow.
The first session of the Seminar saw a distinguished panel of speakers providing insights into the growth achieved and challenges faced by the industry at global and regional in the past decades. This session gave an overview of cross-border regulation in various jurisdictions, which can suggest some important lessons for Bangladesh.