IsDB Institute’s Global Forum: ‘Islamic Finance Has An Essential Role In Post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery’

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Islamic finance has an essential role in helping countries mobilize resources to fund economic recovery and fight extreme poverty following the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was among the key conclusions of the 15th IsDB Global Forum on Islamic Finance, held virtually on 28 August 2021.

The IsDB Institute (IsDBI) organized the forum under the theme, “The Role of Islamic Finance in Post-COVID19 Economic Recovery of IsDB MCs”, as part of the side events of the 2021 IsDB Group Annual Meeting. The forum brought together senior development practitioners and private sector experts from the Republic of Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Mauritania, IsDB Group, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank.

In his speech at the opening of the forum, H.E. Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser, Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) President and Chairman of the IsDB Group, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated poverty and stalled human development, adding that countries and development partners must come together to identify strategies for achieving a sustainable recovery.

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“Human development is a crucial goal of IsDB to maintain and promote human dignity in its Member Countries. Achieving this goal starts with reducing all forms of poverty, particularly in health and education, which are essential for building human capital,” Dr. Al Jasser said.

Underlining the significance of infrastructure investments for developing economies, H.E. Dr. Al Jasser stated that the growing Islamic finance industry could serve as an essential source of finance for infrastructure development in developing countries and emerging markets.

“We welcome the joint World Bank–IsDB effort to develop the Islamic Finance for Infrastructure PPP Projects reference Guide, which aims to shed light on the essential aspects of Islamic finance related to infrastructure public-private partnerships,” he added.

Earlier, Acting Director-General of the IsDB Institute, Dr. Sami Al-Suwailem, in his welcome remarks, thanked H.E. Dr. Al Jasser and the participants of the forum. He added that “the forum this year aimed to integrate the principles of Islamic finance with the search for solutions for economic challenges facing the IsDB Member Countries.”

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Two keynote speeches were delivered by Dr. Bambang Susantono, Vice President at the Asian Development Bank, and Mr. Imad Fakhoury, Global Director, Infrastructure Finance, PPP and Guarantees (IPG) Group, World Bank.

Dr. Susantono spoke on how Islamic finance can help fill the financing gap required to kickstart the economic recovery post-COVID-19, while Mr. Fakhoury focused on promoting public-private partnerships for infrastructure financing in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

Following the keynote speeches, two panel sessions were held. The first session highlighted the extent of multidimensional poverty in IsDB Member Countries and the adverse impacts of COVID-19.

The panel discussants were Mr. Norkulov Ilkhom, First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction, Uzbekistan; Dr. Sabina Alkire, Director, Oxford Poverty, and Human Development Initiative; Ms. Matilda Dimovska, UNDP Resident Representative in Uzbekistan; Mr. El Yass Ould Didi, Director of Demographic and Social Statistics, Office of National Statistics, Mauritania; and Mr. Khemais El-Gazzah, Senior Advisor to the Director-General of the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD).

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The second panel discussed Islamic finance public-private partnerships as a tool to mobilize resources to support the economic recovery efforts. The panelists were Ms. Fatouma Toure Ibrahima, Practice Manager, PPP Group Infrastructure Finance, PPPs and Guarantees (IPG) Group, World Bank; Mr. Nadir Nuritdinov, Deputy Director of Uzbekistan PPP Development Agency; Mr. Sohail Kashif, Chief Financial Officer, Foundation Wind Energy Limited, Pakistan; and Mr. Hassan Idris, Senior Legal Counsel, Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC).

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