Islamic finance in Mauritius is on the upswing with many exciting developments in the Mauritian financial services sector.

Just in the past week, the central bank has granted a new banking license to Habib Bank, entered into a collaboration with the Central Bank of Sudan, and the Islamic Financial Services Industry Stability Report 2014 has been unveiled.

For starters, last Thursday, 22 May 14, the Bank of Mauritius granted a license to the Habib Bank Ltd to lead Islamic finance operations in the island economy.

Governor Rundheersing Bheenick handed over the new banking licence to Abid Sattar, Regional General Manager of HBL Singapore, in the presence of Asraf Khan, Deputy Governor, State Bank of Pakistan, and Sajid Bodhy, Country Manager of HBL in Mauritius.

It is to be noted that currently in Mauritius there exists only one full-fledged Islamic bank and one other bank operating an Islamic window.

As for Habib Bank, the new banking licence allows it to conduct Islamic banking business through a window operation, alongside its existing banking business.

“We are keen to break new ground and encourage you to focus on the potential of retail Islamic banking in the country. Islamic finance is attractive for all customers of financial services, irrespective of their faith, as it is based on principles which are of universal appeal and are echoed in many religions,” Bheenick stated.

As for Abid Sattar, he expressed the desire for his bank to continue to grow, and gave HBL’s commitment to encourage retail Islamic banking through its branch network.

HBL was established in 1941 in Pakistan and its presence in Mauritius dates back to 1964. It currently has one main office and 2 branches in Mauritius.

On the same day, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between Bheenick and the Governor of the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS), Abdelrahman Hassan Abdelrahman Hashim, on the sidelines of the 11th IFSB Summit.

This MoU seeks to establish a collaborative framework aimed at supervisory cooperation and information sharing.

According to Bheenick, signing this agreement with one of the largest economies in COMESA will reinforce both countries’ attempt for wider regional cooperation.

For his part, CBoS’s governor stated that he looks forward to close cooperation, not only between the two regulating bodies, but also between the commercial banks which operate in the two regions.

Finally, the Islamic Financial Services Industry (IFSI) Stability Report 2014 was launched by Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam during the opening session of the 11th IFSB summit on May 21, 2014 in Mauritius.

The Stability Report is considered as a platform for the IFSB to engage on topical issues with its stakeholders and for sharing findings of recent IFSB research with them.

The report contains key issues affecting the IFSI such as: updates on the trends and development in the various segments of the industry – Islamic banking, Islamic capital markets and Takāful, and Islamic microfinance; and global initiatives undertaken by international standard-setting bodies to further strengthen the resilience and stability of the financial institutions and markets, as well as the implications of such reforms for institutions offering Islamic financial services.

Additionally, it draws attention to the prospects and role of Islamic finance in contributing to the sustained economic growth and prosperity of new markets and locations, particularly Africa.

To conclude, new jurisdictions in Islamic finance are expected to benefit from the IFSB’s report on “Prospects and Challenges in the Development of Islamic Finance for Bangladesh,” which shares the countries prospects and challenges, initiatives and experiences in developing Islamic finance.

Image (Bank of Mauritius): A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was also signed between Bank of Mauritius Governor Rundheersing Bheenick and the Governor of the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS), Abdelrahman Hassan Abdelrahman Hashim, on the sidelines of the 11th IFSB Summit.

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