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WIEF-UEF Roundtable in Chennai

by Su Aziz

The WIEF Roundtable, an initiative of WIEF Foundation, recently joined forces with UEF and co-organised the event in Chennai. It focused on the development of Islamic financing, investment opportunities in India and shariah-compliant investments.

On 10 November 2018, Chennai played host to the WIEF-UEF Roundtable that was attended by over 400 participants from at least six countries. An initiative of WIEF Foundation, the WIEF Roundtable has travelled to cities such as Moscow, Gangwon, Johannesburg, London and Phnom Penh. Its discussions with industry experts include those on topical economic issues within a regional focus.

This time, the fourteenth Roundtable had four sessions, with expert speakers from finance and banking sector across the world, discussed various aspects of shariah-compliant investment opportunities in India, prospects of Islamic finance in non-Muslim countries as well as investment opportunities in Tamil Nadu. The Roundtable succeeded in providing a platform for entrepreneurs as well as investors to network, and for them to explore business opportunities.

India has emerged as the fastest growing major economy in the world and it’s expected to be one of the top three global economic powers over the next decade or so. It has the world’s third largest startup base with over 4,750 technology startups. India’s investment potential is undeniable and its state of Tamil Nadu is a big contributor to its economy, with its capital city, Chennai, being a significantly large commercial and industrial centre.


The WIEF-UEF Roundtable opened on the morning of 10 November 2018 at the Hotel ITC Grand Chola in Chennai, India. It was attended by the Chairman and secretary general of WIEF, representatives of UEF (United Economic Forum), speakers of the Roundtable sessions, participants and officiated by the Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, The Honourable O. Paneerselvam.


Reporting on the Roundtable, The Hindu Business Line, an Indian media, quotes The Honourable Tun Musa Hitam, Chairman of WIEF Foundation as saying, ‘Islamic finance is continuously gaining traction globally from a niche market of global banking to growing source of funding. However, even with a large muslim population, knowledge and understanding on Islamic finance is fairly limited in India and in Tamil Nadu.’


Reporting on the Roundtable, The Business Standard online quotes The Honourable O. Paneerselvam who is the Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, as saying, ‘[Tamil Nadu] aims to attract one per cent of all sovereign wealth fund investments. This would amount to USD33 billion. Tamil Nadu has already identified over 200 infrastructure projects that require investments worth around USD250 billion. It ranks first among all states in terms of the number of factories and industrial workers. For the second year in a row, Tamil Nadu has maintained its position in the Public Affairs Index – 2017 as the state with the best governance.’


During the session that discussed Shariah-Compliant Investments: Opportunities for Investments in India from Across the Globe, three speakers including Raja Teh Maimunah Raja Abdul Aziz who is the managing director of wholesale banking from Malaysia’s Ambank Group spoke on the rapid growth of shariah-compliant investments since it started. The session was designed to discuss options available to global investors as well as how to make shariah compliant investments subject to existing foreign exchange and tax regulations in India. The other two speakers were Professor Dr Ashraf Md Hashim, CEO of ISRA Consultancy in Malaysia and Dr Mohd Damak of S&P Global Ratings in France.


Professor Dato’ Dr Azmi Omar, CEO of INCEIF Malaysia, during the sessions that discussed Mobilising Innovative Financing for Infrastructure, Manufacturing and Real Estate Governments. Professor Azmi moderated the session that featured three speakers Irman Boyle of Indonesia Infrastructure Finance, Hamid Rashid of Finterra in Singapore and S. Krishnan of Housing and Urban Development Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu.


Irman Boyle who is executive vice president of the Head of Advisory Group from Indonesia Infrastructure Finance, joined two other speakers during the Mobilising Innovative Financing for Infrastructure, Manufacturing and Real Estate session that was designed to discuss how interest free financing can be used for infrastructure projects, particularly in Tamil Nadu and what are the challenges and opportunities of interest free financing for infrastructure, manufacturing and real estate.


One of four speakers, Asad Ansari of Amanah Islamic Finance in Australia, during the Islamic Finance in Non-Muslim Countries: Learnings from Abroad session that was designed to discuss the development and possible prospects for Islamic finance in non-Muslim nations and the driving factors that have attributed to the rise of Islamic finance in non-Muslim countries. The other speakers were Mohd Thowfeek Mohd Azmeer of Sri Lanka’s Amana Bank, Alberto Brugnoni of ASSAIF in Italy and H. Abdur Raqeeb of Indian Centre for Islamic Finance in India.


During the India Focus – Investment Opportunities in Tamil Nadu session, Sherif Kottapurath of Mount Judi Ventures LLP in India joined three other speakers. The session was designed to discuss the innovations and business opportunities available in Tamil Nadu as well as government policies and economic incentives for investors. The other two speakers were K. Gnanadesikan who is the additional chief secretary of the Government of Tamil Nadu, K.A. Najmi, of Legal Link India Law Services and Dr Rahmatullah Abdul Ahad of Janaseva Co-operative Credit Society Ltd. in India.


There were over 400 participants from six countries including the United States, Singapore and Thailand. The majority were from all over India and they were made up of industry role players, policy makers, entrepreneurs as well as investors.
14 Nov 2018
Last modified: 16 Nov 2018
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