Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, concluded a seminar on developing a sustainable Islamic banking industry in Oman.
The seminar, organised in partnership with Meethaq Islamic Banking, debated the subject of liquidity management, Sukuk issuance, and the critical role by the government and the Central Bank to support the industry.
Panelists recommended that the Government and the Central Bank of Oman collaborate to set a five year strategic plan aimed at developing the Islamic financial services industry in Oman.
Oman, which is a recent entrant to the Islamic finance industry, was ranked fifth in the Thomson Reuters Global Islamic Finance Development Indicator. This was mainly driven by strong knowledge and awareness drives during 2012.
Sulaiman Al Harthy, Group General Manager, Islamic Banking, Meethaq, Bank Muscat, said: “Islamic banks are facing significant challenges in managing their own liquidity. Lack of a developed global Islamic money market is one of the key hurdles. The industry also suffers from the shortage of short-term to long-term, or highly tradable, investment instruments with limited capital risk and, ideally, predictable returns.”
Mr. Al Harthy stressed that the overall advancement and growth of institutions offering Islamic financial services rely heavily on the effective functioning of Islamic capital markets that are suitable for trading of Shari’a compatible securities.
“This means that we should have markets for long-term financial instruments that are both tradable and Shari’a compatible,” he added.
Dr. Sayd Farook, Head of Islamic Capital Markets, Thomson Reuters, said: “The seminar gathered leading industry stakeholders to chart the way forward for the Islamic financial services industry in Oman. We have seen meaningful and action oriented discussions that will facilitate a sustainable development of the Islamic finance industry in Oman.”
With respect to the Sukuk market, speakers highlighted the importance of facilitating international USD sukuk issuance in order to absorb the liquidity from GCC and international investors for Omani infrastructure projects. They pointed out that the Sukuk Issuance regulations which are in draft form, developed by the Capital Markets Authority, should ?allow the utilization of offshore special purpose vehicles in line with international standards.
Further, the speakers also recommended that the Central Bank should allow Islamic banking subsidiaries and fully fledged Islamic banks to raise their investments in government securities beyond the current restrictive 30 percent limit, in order to appropriately invest in local and foreign government issuances. Speakers suggested that corporates needed to be educated about their Islamic funding options.
The seminar debated the subject of liquidity management. Panelists recommended that the government should explore new innovative structures to support the absorption of liquidity.
They also stressed on the key role of the Central Bank of Oman in leading initiatives to absorb the excess of liquidity. They suggested that Islamic institutions should be able to invest their short term liquidity through vehicles that diversify risk while providing a short term liquidity instrument.
Head, Corporate Communications & Public Relation
Middle East, Africa, and Russia / CIS