Responding to increased interest in developing Islamic finance, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Central Bank of Tunisia (CBT), ) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), organized a three-day regional conference in Tunis on December 17 to exchange knowledge and share experience in building technical capacity in Islamic Banking and Sukuk Markets.
Senior officials from the Ministries of Finance and Central Banks from Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Oman, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen, as well as international and regional institutions attended the workshop. The event was timely as many countries in the region are already proceeding with an overhaul of their banking regulation to allow Islamic financial products or are actively preparing for Sukuk issuances by governments.
As pointed out by Dr. Chedly Ayari, the Governor of the Central Bank of Tunisia, “Arab countries like Tunisia are now looking forward to deepen their financial sector, develop an Islamic finance industry to provide diversified financial services, and tap into the domestic and global Sukuk markets to finance their development. Therefore, this seminar comes at the right juncture and is designed to help participants from our region to learn, share experiences and identify steps ahead in developing Islamic finance along with our partners”.
During the three days, participants discussed the industry potential in the region and the key policy challenges to foster its development. In that regard, they examined the legal, accounting, governance, regulatory and supervisory issues for developing a growing and sound Islamic finance industry. They also underscored the importance of Sukuk markets to help governments and enterprises tap into domestic and global savings to finance their development. This would also improve the liquidity management of Islamic banks that often needs to be further supported by revisiting the central banking framework, both to reinforce the monetary policy instruments and to level the playing field between conventional and Islamic institutions.
Zeine Zeidane, Advisor in the IMF Monetary and Middle East and Central Asia Department, said that “Islamic finance is growing fast globally but remains little developed in North African countries. Given the financing needs of the region and an increase in the use of Islamic instruments, both by governments as well as corporations, it is important to strengthen the domestic regulatory infrastructure and supervision as well as central bank liquidity management frameworks”.
Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Hinai, Vice-President of the IsDB, said: “We are encouraged by the tremendous progress shown by Islamic financial services industry in terms of innovation and resilience and we are committed to its growth globally. IsDB welcomes the interest of the participant countries in developing this industry and stands ready to support them through various measures such as technical assistance and investments”.