Pakistan launches media campaign to boost Islamic finance

Greece’s former finance minister should be prosecuted, lawmakers say

Former socialist Finance minister George Papaconstantinou at the Greek Parliament in Athens on January 17, 2013.

The campaign is part of an overhaul of Islamic finance activities in Pakistan, which also includes the establishment of a country-level sharia board and new rules for sharia-compliant financial products. The central bank is rolling out a five-year plan for Pakistan’s Islamic banking sector, which follows religious principles such as bans on interest and pure monetary speculation. “There still prevails a significant population that is either unaware of Islamic banking or have confusions and misconceptions about its current paradigm,” said central bank governor Yaseen Anwar at the launch of the campaign on Thursday. The campaign, developed alongside local Islamic banks, would help the industry reach ambitious targets including a doubling of its branch network in five years and a 15 percent share of the banking system, Anwar added. As of March, the industry held an 8.7 percent share of banking assets and 9.7 percent of deposits, central bank data shows.

Thirty-seven percent aim to improve visibility of revenue and expenses and 35 percent will invest in systems to support business analytics. When asked what they would do with cash reserves, less than one out of four executives surveyed (23%) said they would hold their cash. Executives most frequently indicated that they would in part reinvest in their business and/or fund acquisitions (79%). In fact, 60 percent of the executives said either a combination of organic and / or inorganic growth would be their company’s primary driver of growth this year.

Senior Finance Executives Cautiously Optimistic about Business Prospects, but Uncertainty Challenges

Seventeen deputies were absent. Addressing lawmakers before the vote, Papaconstantinou denied wrongdoing and said he was being targeted “for one simple reason, being the finance minister who put the country in the bailout process.” A council of judges will convene, probably later this week, to decide whether Papaconstantinou should face the criminal charges outlined in Parliament. While it is not illegal to hold a Swiss bank account, and there is no evidence that anyone broke the law, suspicions are high in Greece that some of those named in the list may have opened the accounts to avoid paying taxes to the Greek state. A parliamentary committee was set up last year to look into why no investigation was carried out under either Papaconstantinou or his successor as finance minister, Evangelos Venizelos.

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