S'pore's strength as finance hub to spur growth of Islamic services

Singapore's strength as a finance hub is key to allowing Islamic financial services to flourish, said Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) assistant managing director Ng Nam Sin on Wednesday.

Mr Ng said the country's three-pronged approach to the sector is underpinning its rapid growth.

One tack is to accommodate Islamic finance products within Singapore's regulatory and tax framework where possible.

He said: "We have ensured the neutrality of the rules insofar as Islamic financing is similar to conventional financing in economic substance and risk."

Another approach involves the MAS encouraging Islamic finance training providers to tie up with educational institutes based in Singapore to build up a pipeline of finance professionals with the relevant expertise.

Mr Ng also told the Islamic Finance News Singapore Roadshow that the MAS will keep participating in international Islamic financial organisations to help the sector lift overall standards and improve its skills.

He noted that the depth and diversity of Singapore's capital market has helped syariah-compliant products such as sukuk, real estate investment trusts (Reits) and innovative investment funds develop and expand.

"The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore pioneered the use of sukuk to finance the development of wakaf properties under its management," Mr Ng said at the Singapore Management University event.

Mr Ng also mentioned that Sabana Reit, which is managed in Singapore, is the world's largest syariah-compliant Reit in terms of asset size.

He added that banks from the region are contributing to Singapore's Islamic financial sector, bringing experience and expertise from their home countries.

There is also a growing cluster of banks from the Middle East operating in Singapore that are beginning to offer Islamic financial services.

He said: "The growth potential for Islamic finance in Singapore is strong. We will maintain our fundamental approach of providing a level playing field between Islamic and conventional finance."

songyuan@sph.com.sg


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