‘Islamic banking ready to replace conventional mode’

* SBP acting governor calls for focus on improving the perception of Islamic banking in society

KARACHI: The 3rd Islamic Finance Expo and Conference, 2014, kicked off on Thursday with a consensus that it’s time for Islamic mode to take over the banking and finance sector.
The event was organised by the Publicity Channel, an event management company, to promote the concept of Islamic finance. The moot discussed opportunities and challenges being faced by the sector in the current diversifying situations.
State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Acting Governor Ashraf Mahmood Wathra and Mufti-e-Azam Pakistan Rafi Usmani graced the event with their presence.
In his address, the SBP acting governor stressed the need to further speed up the extension of Islamic banking. He said that the future of Islamic banking in Pakistan, as well as across the global, was very positive. “We should focus on improving the perception of Islamic banking in our society.”
He hailed the role of Islamic banks and stated that recently taken measures by Islamic banks for promotion of Sharia-based banking were viable and significant.
Responding to queries of distinguished guests, he agreed that Islamic banking could play a vital role in reduction of crises, including the energy crisis, which directly hit the labour class. In this regard, he said that finance for solar panels would be made through Islamic banks.
He said that the government was already supporting local youth for entrepreneurship. Furthermore, the suggestion of loaning to youngsters through Islamic banks would be considered seriously, he said. He also agreed to include cool chains in the finance circles of Islamic banking, as warehouses were already enjoying the facility.
Mufti Rafi Usmani said that though the sector was yet to become flagged Islamic banking, it had achieved the milestone of interest-free banking, which was admirable.
He claimed that with the grace of God, the local Islamic banking sector had groomed enough itself to replace the entire conventional banking. 
He urged the government to switch the banking mode at the governmental level through legislation. He was of the view that the government should now ban conventional banking immediately.
Rafi Usmani also urged the Islamic banking sector to upgrade itself on Islamic values, instead of blindly competing in the conventional mode. He also proposed to Islamic banks to focus on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector. According to him, it would bring an economic evolution in the country. He added that Islamic finance in SMEs sector was the most effective solution to the challenges and problems being faced by the state. 

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