Prod Senate to act on Islamic banking bill, DBP told

By Jose Cielito Reganit

February 12, 2019, 7:07 pm

MANILA -- A party-list lawmaker on Tuesday called on the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) to focus its efforts in persuading the Senate to fast-track the approval of the Islamic Banking and Financing framework in the country to make Islamic banking more accessible in the Bangsamoro region.

Anak Mindanao (AMIN) Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan made the call following statements from a top executive of the state-owned bank, urging Mindanao lawmakers to pursue the proposed framework on Islamic banking in the Philippines for the development of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

DBP chief executive officer and president Cecilia Borromeo noted that they have never heard such initiative in forwarding the proposed measure, noting that a framework for Islamic banking must be enacted to optimize the opportunities that can be offered by the bank's subsidiary, the Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank (AIIB), to the BARMM.

Sancopan, however, pointed out to the DBP that the House of Representatives has already approved on third reading House Bill 8281, known as "An Act Providing for the Regulation and Organization of Islamic Banks," which seeks to provide for the Islamic banking framework in the country.

“While the Islamic banking and financing bill has passed on third reading in the Lower House, the Senate has yet to release a committee report on the proposed law,” she said.

“AMIN party-list representatives request that as one of the stakeholders and advocates of the framework, the DBP should urge the Senate to push with the Islamic banking bill being a crucial ingredient in optimizing the operations of the AIIB,” Sancopan said.

Al-Amanah was established in 1973 to help fund projects in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao that were predominantly Moro-populated.

In 2008, DBP acquired 99.9 percent of its shares by taking over the shares of the national government, Social Security System and the Government Service Insurance System.

The DBP is pushing for the enactment of an Islamic Banking and Financing Framework to enable foreign Islamic financial institutions in investing in AIIB.

Bank officials said a general framework is necessary due to the difference between Islamic banking and the conventional banking system.

Islamic banking offers no interest rate and the arrangement between lender and borrower is governed by the Shariah law.

As the only Islamic bank in the Philippines, AIIB can help in the development of the BARMM by making Islamic financing more accessible through the establishment of more branches in the region. (PNA)