LONDON: The 6th Global Islamic Finance Awards (GIFA) will be held in Jakarta on September 29, 2016, under the auspices of Otoritas Jasa Keuangan (OJK). The awards ceremony will be attended by CEOs of Islamic banks and financial institutions from around the world, including the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC), Malaysia, USA, Europe and Pakistan.
Every year, GIFA celebrates the contribution of a top leader to promote Islamic banking and finance in a specific jurisdiction, by way of presenting Global Leadership in Islamic Finance to a head of state or government or someone similar in stature. This year’s recipient of this prestigious award is His Excellency Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia, who will become the 6th GIFA Laureate.
“The choice of Jakarta for the 6th GIFA is strategic,” said Dr Sofiza Azmi, CEO of Edbiz Consulting that serves as Awards Administrator. Indonesia is emerging as a strategic frontline for the global Islamic financial services industry and the GIFA. Previous GIFA Awards Ceremonies have taken place in Muscat (2011), Kuala Lumpur (2012), Dubai (2013 & 2014) and Bahrain (2015).
From Pakistan, a number of Islamic banks are expected to participate in the prestigious GIFA Awards Ceremony; Saeed Ahmed, Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), is expected to represent the central bank. “Pakistan’s representation is adequate this year,” said Khurman Shehzad, secretary to the GIFA Awards Committee. “We have some strong nominations from a few Islamic banks that are competing well with their counterparts from other countries of the world.”
Pakistan’s Islamic banking and finance sector is making progress under the current regime. In the last Finance Bill, the government provided 2% tax incentive for Shariah compliant companies in the manufacturing sector listed on the Pakistan Stock Exchange. Full-fledged Islamic banks like Meezan Bank and conventional banks like Bank Alfalah and HBL are playing lead roles in the development of Islamic banking in the country. These banks are expected to be represented at the GIFA Awards Ceremony in Jakarta.
On previous five occasions, the likes of BankIslami PakiPakistan’s participation in the Global Islamic Finance Awards 2016
stan, Meezan Bank, Bank Alfalah and Albaraka Bank Pakistan have been honoured in different categories. In the last GIFA Awards Ceremony held in Bahrain in 2015, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar received Islamic Finance Advocacy Award 2015 for his patronage of Islamic banking and finance in the country. “Pakistan has a lot to share with the wider world in terms of innovations and examples of good practices in Islamic banking and finance, and it is important that Pakistani Islamic financial institutions are highlighted,” said Shehzad.
There are some other important categories in which Pakistan has yet to receive recognition. The country should hope that events like GIFA will pave the way for recognition of Islamic banking and finance on a global level.
The writer is an economist with PhD from the University of Cambridge