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Philippines seeks Islamic funding to develop halal industry

Philippines

The Philippines is pushing ahead with more development plans for the Muslim-minority south of the archipelago, the Mindanao region. Apart from earlier plans to use Islamic bonds, or sukuk, to fund infrastructure projects in the region where about one fifth of the 25.5mn-population belong to the Muslim faith, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) is now eyeing Islamic financial institutions as a source of funds to develop agricultural and other halal industries in the southernmost provinces.

“There is interest from Islamic financial institutions to support particularly the agriculture sector in Mindanao, as well as the halal industry which is seen as a growing sector here,” MinDA’s public affairs division chief Adrian Tamayo told reporters at a media briefing in Davao City.

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However, the funding by Islamic institutions all depends on a proper legislation for the sector in the Philippines, for which many stakeholders are still waiting.

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To release core Islamic financing vehicles such as sukuk and utilise other Islamic funding structures, a reliable and sustainable legal and regulatory framework has to be put in place first.

In fact, a respective bill which seeks to organise and regulate Islamic banks in the Philippines passed the committee level at the house of representatives in August last year but is still waiting for congressional approval.

“If approved by Congress, the monetary board of the Philippine central bank may eventually authorise the establishment of Islamic banks,” Tamayo said.

“It may also authorise conventional banks to engage in Islamic banking arrangements, including structures and transactions, through a designated Islamic banking unit within a bank,” he added. Mindanao is pinning much hope on the development of its halal industry as it certainly has the potential of improving economic conditions in the region. (Gulf Times)

Activities are currently focused on Zamboanga Special Economic Zone, where an “Asian Halal Centre” as a halal manufacturing and processing zone is currently being set up and promoted for foreign investors, while Cotabato City is being developed into a halal food hub within Mindanao.

The Muslim Mindanao Halal Certification Board as the sole authorised and accredited halal certifier in the region is auditing and supervising Shariah-compliance of all halal products and services in Mindanao. (Gulf Times)

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