The Muslim Association of Malawi (Mam) has expressed worry over delays by the government to allow the Islamic Bank start its operations in the country.
Mam formed a task force in 2013 to work with the Reserve Bank of Malawi, which is the Regulator of banking services, but the association’s General Secretary, Alhaji Twaibu Lawe has said, little progress has been made.
“I think this is, to some extent, a lost opportunity as the Islamic Bank could have helped in increasing the number of Malawians with access to financial services,” he said.
Lawe also said initialisation of the bank could help in reducing poverty levels in the country as it offers people the opportunity to access loans and medical aid, among others, without interest.
“Every time we hear reports of people losing property due to failure to pay back loans as a result of high interest rates by the conventional banking industry, we are here to address this challenge by providing the masses with the opportunity to Malawians, most of whom are poor to access loans with interests [requirements],” Lawe said.
At the week end, the association met with officials from various financial institutions in the country to sensitise them on the benefits of having an Islamic Bank.
And speaking during an interface meeting with various stakeholders in Blantyre, one of the initiative’s facilitators’ Mufti Ismail Ebrahim Desai, echoed Lawe’s sentiments saying the bank could provide solutions to high-interest-rates challenges Malawians face.
Desai also called for persistence among Muslims in pushing for promotion and execution of the Islamic financial services in Malawi.
“As a religious institution the bank seeks to meet the financial needs of the people without any exploitation; so, we need to be vigilante in making sure that the bank starts operations in Malawi in the soonest time possible,” he said.
According to reports, the bank, which is currently operational in South Africa among other countries across the world, has grown in assets from US$200 billion to about US$1.8 trillion in the past decade.