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Brunei recognised for its Islamic finance development, says minister

Adib Noor

The Sultanate was ranked 12th out of 136 countries and was recognised for steadfast development in Islamic finance, according to the IFDI Report 2022.

This was shared in a keynote address by Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah read by Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy (Fiscal) Pengiran Datin Seri Paduka Hajah Zety Sufina binti Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Sani during the launch.

She read this during the launch of Brunei Islamic Finance Summit 2023 themed ‘Securing A Resilient and Sustainable Future Through Innovative Islamic Finance’ at the International Convention Centre (ICC), Berakas as part of Brunei Mid-Year Conference and Exhibition 2023 (Brunei MYCE 2023).

The country also achieved a 31 IFDI score based on five indicators – financial performance, governance, sustainability, knowledge, and awareness.

“Brunei Darussalam maintained its top position in regulations, thereby demonstrating the robustness of its Islamic finance governance.

“The report also ranked the Sultanate at fourth place for events under the awareness indicator, and fifth place for research under the knowledge indicator,” read the deputy minister.

PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR

Brunei embarked on its endeavour to develop and advance Islamic finance in 1991, guided by the national philosophy, Malay Islamic Monarchy, as well as the Maqasid Syariah principles, aiming to preserve and promote religion, life, intellect, wealth and progeny.

“These principles have shaped the national strategies, providing clear directions to steer the country’s transition towards becoming an innovative and sustainable economy.

“These strategies include, Brunei Vision 2035 to ensure that the people of the country are educated, highly skilled and accomplished, enjoy a high quality of life, and have a dynamic and sustainable economy by 2035.

“The Economic Blueprint for Brunei Darussalam which focusses on strengthening five priority sectors to boost diversification efforts, namely downstream oil and gas, food, tourism, info-communications and technology and services; the Digital Economy Masterplan which aims to transform the Sultanate into a smart nation through digitalisation.

“The Brunei Darussalam National Climate Change Policy which aims to create a low-carbon and climate-resilient nation; and the Brunei Darussalam Financial Sector Blueprint which focusses on developing a dynamic and diversified financial sector.”

The deputy minister said that Brunei was placed in 20th place in the Global Islamic FinTech (GIFT) Index in 2022 alongside Bangladesh, and Turkiye, a jump from 31st place in the previous year. The GIFT Index 2022 is a composite index of 19 key indicators that signifies a country’s conduciveness to the growth of Islamic fintech market and ecosystem, talent, regulation, infrastructure, and capital.

The country’s success in developing Islamic finance has been unequivocal, attributed to the concerted efforts from various stakeholders, including Brunei Darussalam Central Bank (BDCB), as the financial regulator playing a pivotal role in establishing the framework to cultivate a thriving ecosystem for Islamic finance.

The financial industry, she said, has played an active role in advancing Islamic finance.

“We have witnessed a BND2 billion pledge made by an Islamic bank towards sustainability efforts; the introduction of digital solutions for takaful products; the offering of Islamic investment products by a conventional capital market services licence holder through an Islamic window; and a local Islamic asset manager becoming a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment.”

Beyond the financial sector, other industry players such as fintech and telecommunication companies have contributed to the development of Islamic finance.

Examples cited include e-Zakat payment gateways and crowdfunding platforms for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Such initiatives also contribute to the realisation of the country’s vision to become a smart nation.

Another initiative set to boost Islamic fintech and Islamic finance overall is the formation of Syariah-compliant Digital Finance Economic Zone fully supported by Brunei Darussalam BIMP-EAGA Business Council through a public and private partnership.

The initiative will drive innovation-based development and facilitate and promote the development of a Syariah-compliant Digital Finance Centre.

The new economic zone will facilitate high speed economic growth while keeping focus on environmental, society and governance.

The deputy minister also commended Brunei Institute of Leadership and Islamic Finance (BILIF) for their work in organising a platform where key players can engage with one another, while relevant knowledge is shared by experts.

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