Finance Minister seeks to eliminate interest-based system in Pakistan

From Zeeshan Mirza

KARACHI: Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar on Thursday called for elimination of interest-based system from the country, said, a bank which only had 100 branches in the past, after introduction of Islamic consumer banking, now successfully operating with over 1000 branches.
He was addressing through video link on the occasion of ‘National Islamic Economic Forum – NIEF’s conference on Roadmap for Islamization of the Economy’ at a hotel here.
The minister said that a committee had been constituted to ensure implementation of Islamic banking in the country.
The minister said, “The subject of Islamic economic system is close to my heart. I desire and pray to eliminate the interest-based system from Pakistan at the earliest”.
He said that during his tenure consisted on 2014-2017 he had taken Ribah-free initiative with the consultation and cooperation of all the stakeholders including State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), industrialists and prominent Islamic scholar Maulana Taqi Usmani and other scholars were onboard.
He added that necessary steps were also taken at that time to eliminate Riba from banking system in the country.
Dar said that in 2016, a relaxation of two percent rebate was also allowed to them who were opting Sharia-based business system at par with Islamic banking system.
He said that after introducing Islamic banking to the consumers, a bank which only had 100 branches in past, now operating with more than 10,000 branches successfully.
Dar said that the Shariat Court in its verdict had given five year’s time span enabling banks to convert them from conventional banking to Islamic banking, however, he added, “With the cooperation of all the stakeholders, we could meet the criteria set for the conversion, before the stipulated time”.
He said that during the past PML-N government, the country was on right track in terms of economy and development was prevailing in the country adding that the consumer price index was also good besides the healthy reserves and indicators.
He said that he had directed the SBP and NBP for withdrawal of their petitions moved by them against the Riba-free banking from Pakistan.
The minister said that a committee had also been constituted comprising all the stakeholders for the conversion of existing banking to Islamic banking, adding the committee had asked him for his input for what his doors were always open for the cause.
He said that the committee had been conducted their first meeting in that regard.
Dar said that during the last few years, Pakistan which was economy-wise among top 24 countries with growing economy, now it was at 47.

He said that the current inflation, mismanagement and bad-governess in the country were due to the failed policies of the past government. The minister expressed his gratitude to the Sailani Welfare Organization over their social activities and said that during the inflation, providing food to the poor was the real humanity among other welfare projects.

He assured the organization that whenever they need, the government would fully cooperate in their welfare projects being executed for the people.