Report on Islamic Financing in the Netherlands Antilles

In order to play a leading role in the region in regard to Islamic financing, the Netherland Antilles must consider the establishment of a national Sharia-council, states the report ‘The Netherlands Antilles: A New Mekka for Islamic Financing’? Sharia-councils, in which Islamic educated people take seat, are bodies of control in a bank or other financial institutions that determine to what extent a certain financial construction is halal (clean, thus allowable) or haram (prohibited).

To pass judgement, the Sharia-council bases herself on the Koran and the Sunna (judgments and practices of the prophet Mohammed) and only answers to Allah when practicing his duty. Even though the Islam is an old religion, Islamic financing didn’t appear until mid-twentieth century in British-India and later in Egypt. Non-Islamic financing was even prohibited in Sudan and Iran at the end of the last century. Yet, there are also Moslems that do not take part in Islamic financing, because they are of the opinion that the Sharia-definitions in this field only applied to the era of the prophet Mohammed.

More conscious and more dedicated
The Islam has revived in the past years, radically and also moderately. Muslims are becoming more conscious of and more dedicated to their religious persuasion. A stricter observance of the Sharia-law also manifests itself in the financing world. Because the Sharia prohibits the giving of money with the purpose to receive money, no interest is paid on Islamic based loans (riba). There is also no room for taking unnecessary risks (gharar) or gamble/speculation (maysir).
Everything must be clear beforehand. For example, people cannot buy tomorrow’s catch of a fisherman, but people can basically pay the fisherman to go fishing tomorrow, as long as everything is clearly arranged beforehand. Islamic financing is thus a form of ethic financing that is based on no-interest and certainty.

No rock-‘n-roll
Sharia-faithful Muslims are not allowed to invest in ‘rock-’n-roll-products’, including tobacco and entertainment products, because these are bad for the people. Not one country in the western hemisphere offer products and services that are based on Islamic financing. If the Antilles want to optimally utilize this ‘pioneering opportunity’, they must continue working on the tax-treaties with Latin-American countries and with the countries, from which Islamic investments will come (like the Middle-East). Also a new fiscal law creates a more advantageous starting position. The market for Islamic financing is huge. Yet, also the zest for this must be well-assessed in the region.

“Expectations are that also this type of service will contribute to a bigger portion of the financial service sector in the Antillean (especially Curacao) economy. The 8 percent foreign exchange proceed, like the 2007 annual report of the Bank of the Netherlands Antilles ascribe this sector, will easily be exceeded”, predicts State Secretary Alex Rosaria (Finance, PNP).

(Source: National Newspaper Amigoe)

July 28, 2008

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