Pakistan

The rise of the #Sukuk

The financial crisis of 2008-09 shifted the world's focus towards greater accountability, enhancement in transparency, improvement in governance and a strict limit on leveraging. This has persuaded the world to look towards Islamic finance as a viable financial alternate. The asset-backed nature of Islamic financial transactions, in addition to the prohibition on speculative activities make it a more stable system than its conventional counterpart. Sukuk is being used by many developing countries as a tool of fiscal policy for economic development. Projects like roads, railways, airports and hospitals etc, are particularly appropriate for Sukuk financing. The Pakistani government has issued total 18 domestic Sukuk and three international Sukuk. The financing of infrastructure developmental projects can be achieved through issuance of Sukuk.

Government incentives boost Islamic banks

#Pakistan's Islamic banks are introducing new products and adjusting policies to take advantage of government incentives designed to boost growth in the industry. Shariah-compliant banks in the country held 11.4% of total banking assets in June, which is well below levels of around 25% seen in Gulf Arab states. To change this, the government introduced a 2% tax rebate for shariah-compliant manufacturing firms in July to encourage them to eliminate interest-bearing debt from their balance sheets. Abdullah Ghaffar, head of investment banking at Al Baraka Bank Pakistan, said he detected signs of an increase in demand for Islamic financing. According to Syed Abubakr, sharia board member of Emaan Islamic Banking, there is some demand for new products from conventional banks planning to convert their operations into fully-fledged Islamic banks.

Fast growth of Islamic Finance industry calls for robust Shariah governance

Standard & Poor’s believes that in view of the fast growth of the Islamic finance industry robust Sharia governance structures are very important. While this model has provided an additional layer of control, actions requested by internal auditors are typically not disclosed to the public. So far only the authorities in Oman and Pakistan have asked Islamic banks to submit themselves to an external Sharia audit. The Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) have already made significant strides in this area. However, S&P believes the current governance framework shows room for improvement. Only a handful of Islamic banks disclose their profit and loss sharing formulas, profit equalisation reserves, or investment risk reserves.

SBP cuts SLR by five percent for Islamic banks

The State Bank of #Pakistan (SBP) has announced a reduction in Statutory Liquidity Requirement (SLR) for Islamic banks and Islamic banking branches by 5% to fix at 14%. Presently, some Rs 570 billion of Islamic banking industry has been placed under the SLR with SBP. This amount includes some Rs 308 billion of Sukuk and Rs 225 billion of Bai-Muajjal. With the maturity of Rs 255 billion Bai-Muajjal, the amount will reach Rs 345 billion, therefore SBP has decided to cut the SLR and fix it at 14%. Time Liabilities, including Time Deposits with a tenor of 1 year and above, will not require any SLR. According to Islamic banking representatives, with the maturity of Rs 225 billion Bai-Muajjal, surplus liquidity of Islamic banking industry will surge to some Rs 400 billion, while there are no more investment opportunities for the Islamic banks in Pakistan.

Burj Bank merges into Al Baraka

Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan) and Burj Bank have successfully merged operations under the name of Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan). The amalgamated entity will operate with a combined network of 224 branches and net assets in excess of 120 billion. Sheikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel, Chairman of Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG) said that the merger was part of the group’s strategy to expand its reach in Pakistan and strengthen the global footprint of Islamic Finance. This merger will further catalyze the growth by establishing Al Baraka as an even stronger institution in the Islamic Banking sphere. The substantial increase in combined capital and branch network will help to reach out to a broader customer base with a full range of Islamic Banking services.

Islamic bank Al Baraka Banking Group to expand network in #Pakistan

Bahrain-based Al Baraka Banking Group plans to expand its network in Pakistan following its merger with Burj Bank. CEO Adnan Ahmad Youssef said the Group's strategy in the Pakistani market was built on expansion in all Pakistani cities. Burj Bank’s 74 branches will be added to those of Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan) to form a network of 224 branches. Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan) aims to increase the number to 300 branches in the next four years. The merger is expected to take effect from the last quarter of this year, and the Bahraini bank will be the major shareholder in the merged institution. Al Baraka Banking Group is also setting up in Morocco after the North African nation introduced legislation allowing Islamic banks into the domestic market. With this entry the Group completes its network in almost all Arab Maghreb countries.

Al Meezan launches MSAP-I

Al Meezan Investment Management (Al Meezan) announced the launch of Meezan Strategic Allocation Plan-I (MSAP-I), an allocation plan under the newly launched fund of funds scheme, Meezan Strategic Allocation Fund. According to Al Meezan CEO Mohammad Shoaib, the plan has an initial term of two years and is now open for subscription. He added that the previous plan with two years duration was very well received by the investors as it gained a cumulative return of 26.21% since its inception. He said the new MSAP-I plan was an ideal investment for those who wished an active asset allocation between Shariah-compliant equity and money market schemes. Al Meezan is the largest private sector asset management company in Pakistan with total assets under management of Rs 86.96 billion in 11 funds and has investor base of 47,000 clients.

#Sukuk company granted #tax exemption

In #Pakistan the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) allowed exemption from withholding tax on purchase of immovable property by the Second Pakistan International Sukuk Company. The company has already enjoyed several exemption and concessions, exemption from levy of various advance taxes, profit on debt and tax on income from property. This further exemption was granted to strengthen the Islamic debt market by attracting investors by grant of tax concessions.

DIBPL first Islamic Bank to sign up for PayPak cards

Dubai Islamic Bank #Pakistan Limited (DIBPL) and 1-Link signed historic agreement for the issuance of PayPak cards in Pakistan. In line with State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Vision 2020 to enhance and promote Financial Inclusion, 1LINK introduced Pakistan’s First Domestic Payment Scheme 'PayPak' which is aimed to provide efficient, cost-effective, and robust payments solutions. DIBPL remains committed to SBP vision to enhance and promote financial inclusion of unbanked population nationwide. PayPak’s strategic objective includes offering Domestic Payment Scheme to provide low cost payment services to every citizen of Pakistan.

#Sukuk auction criticised

In #Pakistan Chair­man of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance Senator Saleem Mandvi­walla has strongly criticized the issuance of $1 billion sukuk. He said that the hurried decision was an act of im­­maturity by the government and it was expected that the rates would be high. Senator Mandviwalla is surprised that Eurobonds which carry sovereign guarantees were sold at 8.25pc interest rate and sukuk, which are guaranteed by assets, are sold at 5.5pc. He said that the federal government also blamed the higher rate on Pak-India border tensions. He added that it would have been better to wait with the issuance for a more suitable time.

#Sukuk issuance to lure foreign investment

The re-entry of #Pakistan into the international Islamic bond market after a gap of two years with the issuance of one billion dollars Sukuk will help the country bolster its external account position. According to analyst Saad Hashemy at Topline Securities, Pakistan's ability to raise funds from the global financial markets at the historic low rates shows investors' optimism about the economic prospects. The government raised $1.0 billion through the issuance of five-year dollar-denominated Sukuk at the historic low rate of 5.5%. The investors across the world showed interest in parking around $2.4 billion in the bonds. Pakistan’s credit rating has remained stable or improved during the last few years. International credit rating agencies Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) rated Pakistan as B3 (stable), B (stable) and B (positive), respectively in their last ratings.

SBP aims to achieve 50pc financial inclusion by 2020: deputy governor

The State Bank of #Pakistan (SBP) is pursuing a three-pronged strategy to achieve the goal of 50% financial inclusion by the year 2020. According to Saeed Ahmed, deputy governor of the central bank, twenty million households need microfinance in Pakistan. The forum, organised by Shamrock Conferences International was held to strive for the expansion of financial services. Dr Mohammad Amjad Saqib, chairman of Akhuwat Foundation, delivered the keynote address and stressed the importance of microfinance. Speakers agreed that the microfinance specialists must create a sustainable model by offering competitive microfinance products, reducing costs and expanding their outreach.

Moody's assigns (P)B3 to #Pakistan's sovereign #sukuk

Moody's Investors Service has today assigned a provisional (P)B3 rating to the proposed US dollar Trust Certificates to be issued by The Third Pakistan International Sukuk Company. The (P)B3 rating reflects Moody's view that the sukuk certificate holders will effectively be exposed to the sovereign credit risk incorporated in the government's issuer rating. Payment obligations represented by the securities are ranked pari passu with other senior, unsecured debt issuances of the Government of Pakistan. The rating for the Government of Pakistan captures moderate economic strength, structurally large fiscal imbalances, a high government debt burden and high susceptibility to political event risks.

ECC waives 10 types of taxes on Islamic bonds

The #Pakistani government waived 10 taxes on the upcoming international Sukuk bond issue, which is expected to raise at least $750 million. The government is going to tap the international debt market next month to borrow $750 million to $1 billion by pledging the Islamabad-Lahore Motorway. Headed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet granted tax exemptions on the Islamic bonds. This decision violated the Supreme Court judgment that barred the ECC from taking decision on fiscal matters without prior approval of the federal cabinet. The ECC also approved to reduce prices of imported urea fertiliser from Rs1,310 per bag to Rs1,200 per bag, giving Rs30.4 million subsidy.

Govt to raise up to $1bn through #sukuk issue in #US

In #Pakistan the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet finalised plans for immediate launch of $500 million to $1 billion sukuk in the US capital market. Presided over by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, the ECC decided to start process for the launch of sukuk in Washington on Tuesday and wind up the transaction by Oct 5, 2016. The government has already hired a consortium of five banks – Citibank, Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank, Dubai Islamic and Noor Islamic – as financial advisers to complete the sukuk transaction. Being Islamic mode, the bond is being raised against Lahore-Islamabad Motorway as collateral that should keep pricing slightly lower than conventional bonds. The government would decide about the exact size of the bond on the basis of investor response and pricing but would remain within $500m-$1bn band.

State Bank’s Vice President gunned down in Karachi

Senior Vice President of State bank of Pakistan (SBP) was gunned down in the area of Gulistan –e- Johar, within the jurisdiction of Shariah Faisal police. Superintendent Police (SP) Gulshan Doctor Fahad Ahmad said that Muhammad Sadiq Siddiqui was going to a bakery when two alleged dacoits attempted to snatch his vehicle. On resistance, dacoits opened fire on him. As a result, he sustained serious injuries and died, while dacoits managed to escape from the scene with car.

FPCCI lauds FM’s efforts for promoting Islamic Banking

The Sr. Vice President FPCCI has lauded the decision of Finance Minister for formulating a Committee for the implementation of recommendations of the Steering Committee for the promotion of Islamic Banking. The expansion and promotion of Islamic banking is the need of the hour because it is risk-sharing and asset-backed nature and was growing and unaffected in the period of global financial crisis.

Sr. Vice President FPCCI Shaikh Khalid Tawab, elaborated that Islamic Banking has become an emerging field in global financial market and the time has proved that it has tremendous potential and is growing at a very fast pace all around the world. He added that Pakistan, with more than 95 % Muslim population, and a constitutional obligation of ensuring a riba free economic system, has huge potential of expanding Islamic banking. This is, if the deposits are used on the basis of detailed analysis to get rate of return more than the conventional banks because at present the return on the Islamic banks instruments is lesser than the conventional banks.

Govt gears efforts to test international appetite for Shariah-compliant papers

The Pakistani government plans to tap international investors’ appetite by offering sukuk worth as much as $750 million for sale. The finance ministry said the structure of the sukuk will be flexible and the issue will have a maturity of at least five years. According to former finance minister Salman Shah the completion of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) programme and reclassification of Pakistan Stock Exchange to MSCI emerging market index would send a positive signal to the investors. Analysts said improved macroeconomic indicators and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor related activities are attracting positive credit ratings.

Musharika, Modaraba and Wakalah: three modes of Islamic financing given exemption from Kibor

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) announced exemption from KIBOR as benchmark rate for Participatory (Musharika & Modaraba) and Wakalah-based products. For this exemption Islamic Banking Institutions (IBIs) will be required to ensure some conditions. IBIs will take adequate measures to mitigate equity investment risk in participatory mode based products. In addition, for Modaraba and Musharika based products, IBIs will ensure compliance with minimum Shariah requirements and AAOIFI Shariah Standard No 12 and No 13 as adopted by the SBP. For Wakalah-based products, IBIs will be required to use Arabic version of AAOIFI Shariah Standard No 23 on Agency as guideline in consultation with their Shariah Board.

SECP drafting Shariah regulatory framework: Hijazi

The Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) is in the process of drafting a Shariah regulatory framework. Addressing at the second day of "World Islamic Finance Forum" (WIFF), SECP Chairman Zafar Hijazi said SECP has established a full-fledged Islamic finance department to co-ordinate the Islamic finance initiative. He said SECP is fully supporting Shariah compliant business and the government has implemented the SECP's tax proposal for offering Sukuk. SECP is currently working on harmonisation and standardisation of regulations for a uniform regulatory environment. The commission has an independent Shariah Advisory Board to review product development and adjudicate on Shariah matters.

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