A Muslim body backed by the Philippines government wants Middle East investors to take a stake in the country's sole sharia lender to help kickstart its Islamic banking industry.
Gulf investors can provide the needed capital to Al-Amanah Islamic Bank, which aims to accelerate the socio-economic development of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, said Datu Tahir Lidasan Jr, a director with the National Commission for Muslim Filipinos.
Al-Amanah Islamic Bank, which is owned by the Development Bank of the Philippines, recorded operational losses from 1990 to 2007. It had a deficit of 562.89 million Philippine pesos ($13 million) as at Oct 31 2007, according to the latest figures available from its website.
Lidasan said Kuwaiti investors had earlier been in discussions to acquire a stake in Al-Amanah Islamic Bank but talks fell through.
"Maybe we can again invite investors from the Middle East to purchase some shares in Al Amanah Islamic Bank," he said on the sidelines of a halal forum in the Malaysian capital.
Foreign shareholding in Philippines' banks is capped at 40 percent, he said.
Just over a tenth of the Philippines' population is Muslim. The country's largest Muslim separatist rebel group has been involved in a long-running insurgency that has killed 120,000 and displaced 2 million.