On the 1st and 2nd November 2017, the Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) in collaboration with the Maldives Center for Islamic Finance (MCIF) organized an international workshop with the theme ‘Islamic Monetary Economics and Institutions: Theory and Practice’, inaugurated by Dr Mohamed Shainy, the minister of fisheries and agriculture, with participants from eight different countries.
In his keynote speech, Dr Shainy mentioned the following achievements the Maldives has witnessed in terms of implementing an Islamic economic and financial system:
a. The introduction of an Islamic microfinance scheme called ‘Faseyha Madadu’ for the first time to assist the SME sector, under the administration of President Yameen Abdul Gayyoom.
b. The only country in South Asia that deals with Islamic treasury instruments.
c. The only South Asian country where women play an instrumental role in driving the Islamic finance industry. Female Shariah scholars have been given the liberty to act in the Maldives’s Islamic finance industry and in this regard the country has the highest female representation in Shariah advisory committees. The Maldives is the only country in which the chairperson of an apex Shariah Advisory Council of a regulatory authority is headed by a female Shariah scholar.
d. A unique Shariah screening methodology of equities enacted as a regulation where it is mandatory for the company intending to become a listed company to give any ‘tainted’ income to charity. The Maldives is the only country that has formulated this rule, therefore in this case, Shariah compliant shares listed in the stock exchange are not Shariah investable shares but in its true sense, they are Shariah compliant shares.
e. Issued a sovereign private Sukuk facility and two corporate Sukuk – the corporate Sukuk structure is unique to the Maldives as the structure used is a pure vanilla type of a Sukuk Mudarabah structure where the Sukuk facility is open to retail and corporate subscribers and directly deals with the company.
f. Established a dedicated Hajj pilgrimage fund, Maldives Hajj Corporation, the Tabung Haji of the Maldives.
g. Darul Eman is the first Waqf project that was successfully implemented where the model was to build a building to lease it out so that the income received from it could be channeled to the Mosque Cash Waqf Fund. Due to this innovative method, mosques in the country can be renovated in a self-sufficient manner without relying on the budget of the government.
h. With assistance from the IDB, the Maldives has formulated the initial drafts of the Zakat bill and Waqf regulations.
i. Halal certification for fishery products is issued and the Halal logo acknowledged by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and JAKIM of Malaysia.
j. For the first time in its history, the Maldives has embarked on a project to create the first Shariah compliant resort handled by the MCIF.
Dr Shainy concluded that President Yameen’s government will support the development and sustainability of Islamic finance not only in the domestic market but throughout South Asia via the MCIF and beyond as the vision is to become the hub for Islamic finance in the region by setting an example to the rest of the world.