Monday, August 11, 2008

Malaysia's ISRA to focus on market research

By Habhajan Singh & Halim Wahab
The International Shariah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA), a newly established body by Malaysia's central bank, will not become a standard-setting body, says its head Dr Mohamad Akram Laldin.
The research outfit funded and backed by an endowment from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) will conduct research concerning issues in the fast-growing field of Islamic finance and support existing local and international standard-setting bodies.
"If we have too many standard setting bodies, it may create confusion," its executive director Dr Mohamad Akram told The Malaysian Reserve in one of his first interviews.
On March 26, in a forward looking step to fortify the country's lead position in Islamic finance, the central bank announced the establishment of the ISRA to spearhead research in Shariah issues.
Its establishment marked yet another proactive measure from the central bank in the sector. The size of the global sukuk market, including sukuk denominanted in local currencies, stood at approximately US$82 billion (RM262.72 billion) as at end-2007.
On its statement, BNM said the ISRA will be part of the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF), which would enable it to leverage on the university's existing infrastructure and facilities as well as tap into the knowledge, expertise and resources of the academic faculty and post graduate students. The move also comes as BNM, which supervises Islamic banks and takaful operators along with their conventional counterparts, attempts to raise the profile of the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC) initiative that began in 2006.
Mohamad Akram said key early initiatives to be undertaken by the ISRA are bridging the perceived gap between the Shariah views of Malaysia and the Middle East, promoting new Shariah based products through innovation, inculcating a sharing culture among industry players and conducting market relevant research for Islamic finance. (The Malaysian Reserve, Aug 11, 2008)


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