SBP, govt support essential for promotion of Islamic banking: NBP President

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Amanullah KhanAmanullah Khan
Karachi
Saeed Ahmad, President and CEO of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) has emphasized upon the need to clarify misconception about Islamic banking and create awareness among public. Removing misperceptions and putting forward clarification to clarify questions in the minds of potential customers, academia and scholars will pave the way to further advance the cause of the industry. As a part of awareness drive for Islamic Banking & Finance, a seminar was organized in Karachi. The event started with the opening and welcome note by prominent personalities related to Islamic banking industry. It was followed by the key note address by the Chief Guest, Tariq Bajwa, Governor, State Bank of Pakistan. Saeed Ahmad also acknowledged the positive and supportive role of the regulatory authority, State Bank of Pakistan, for continuously promoting Islamic Banking sector and facilitating approvals for the conversion of conventional branches into Islamic banking branches. He was pleased to hear from Tariq Bajwa, the Governor of SBP that Governor is committed to maintain SBP’s support for the sector. Strategic aim to achieve 20% share target for Islamic banking sector by 2020 remains intact. As per a study entitled as “Knowledge, Aptitude and Practice (KAP)” commissioned by SBP & DFID UK, 74% of consumers prefer Islamic Banking. However current level of around 12% share leaves a gap of 62%.   Saeed Ahmad said that it will not be possible for Islamic Banking to achieve its full potential without support from SBP and the Government. Islamic Banking fits well in the Government’s “National Financial Inclusion Strategy” which aims to achieve 50% financial inclusion by 2020. Saeed Ahmad reiterated that the biggest characteristic of Islamic banking is that it relates to real economic activities and there is no place for excessive risk taking or speculative activities. He emphasized that ulema may play a very important role in attracting public to riba free banking offered by Islamic Banks.  He, however, advised Islamic Banks to have open dialogue with scholars in Masajid to remove their reservations and misunderstanding. According to him, this will create a flood of demand for Islamic banking. In his speech, Saeed Ahmad emphasized the importance of Islamic Banking for NBP as well. He highlighted that NBP Aitemaad Islamic Banking has achieved a score of 134 Islamic Banking Branches all over Pakistan. He mentioned that he was very confident that the future of Islamic banking industry is very bright but required passion and dedicated efforts from all those associated with it. In addition to the Governor SBP, Jameel Ahmed Deputy Governor SBP, Mr. Samar Hasnain Executive Director SBP, Irfan Siddiqui President Meezan Bank, Shafqat Ahmed CEO of Albaraka, Dr. Imran Usmani, experts on Islamic Banking also took part in the event and emphasized upon the importance of the sector and problems faced by it. They acknowledged and appreciated Mr. Saeed Ahmad’s services for Islamic finance during his tenure at SBP as Deputy Governor and his commitment to assist in solving issues faced by the sector.