The Philippines is looking to Qatar and its other partners in the Middle East as it strives to accelerate the growth of Islamic finance in the country, an official of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) has said.

This prospect, among others, will be explored and discussed during the online forum ‘Shariah Governance Framework and Guidelines on the Establishment of Islamic Banks and Islamic Banking Units in the Philippines’ slated on Thursday, July 23, at 9am.

The virtual event is the third in a series of ‘Business Continuity Forums’ organised by Peza, headed by director general Charito B Plaza. The first forum was held in collaboration with the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG), while the second was a collaboration with Peza’s Investment Promotions Partners in the Middle East.j

The forum will highlight the discussion on Islamic finance as a “vehicle to economic recovery,” and will feature Central Bank of the Philippines (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) managing director, lawyer Arifa A Ala, who will share the recent development on Republic Act (RA) 11439 or “An Act Providing for the Regulation and Organisation of Islamic Banks” signed by Philippine President Rodrigo R Duterte on August 22, 2019.

The focus of discussion will be the ‘Guidelines on the Establishment of Islamic Banks and Islamic Banking Units’ (BSP Circular No 1069 series of 2019) and ‘Shariah Governance Framework for Islamic Banks (IB) and Islamic Banking Units (IBU) BSP Circular 1070’.

Plaza, in the previous forum, highlighted Peza’s 10-point programme, citing plans to build ‘eco-towns’, ‘eco-cities’, and new metropolitan areas in every region in the Philippines.

During the forum, co-organised by the Philippine Business Council-Qatar (PBC-Q), Plaza said Peza is currently identifying areas to be developed as halal hubs for potential investors from the Middle East.

“To support said investments is to welcome foreign Islamic banks to extend its operations in the Philippines, including local commercial banks to open an Islamic bank and/or Islamic banking units/windows,” Plaza said.

Peza had invited panelists/reactors from distinguished institutions from the Philippines, Singapore, Dubai, and Qatar “to provide a holistic discussion,” said Doha-based Peza Investment Promotions Partner Joseph Timothy Rivera, who added that the virtual conference “will attract a bigger audience as the coverage will now span across all GCC countries to include most Middle Eastern and Asian countries.”

“This would be the first time that an in-depth discussion on the potentials of Shariah-compliant Islamic banks in the Philippines would be presented in a global setting,” Rivera added.

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