Wednesday, May 12, 2010

'Look beyond making money', Mahathir Mohammed urges Muslim countries

"The very rich Muslims and Muslim countries appear not to value their wealth or to care about the management of wealth. This has been taken advantage of by others. We may have unlimited sources of wealth but we can never assume that the resources will always yield wealth forever. Depending on others to extract and market our resources is dangerous. The Muslim economy are of course a part of the world's economy but whether the Muslims get their fair share of the wealth of their countries depends on their ability to extract it themselves."

For instance, in the West great businesses have failed because the companies and their executives failed to see the changes taking place around them. The same can apply to commodities or products. Rubber used to be the cash cow for Malaysia. But then came the synthetic variety and the bottom fell out of the rubber market. It is entirely possible that one day the same would happen to the oil market, when renewables and alternatives are developed.

It is only if the Islamic financial institutions (IFIs) are aware of the full extent of the role they can play and they are willing to look beyond merely making money available to those who need it will they be able to represent hope for a better future for the Muslim World.

Despite the fact that Islamic finance has grown tremendously with total Islamic assets worldwide exceeding $1 trillion and overall growth rate totaling 15-20 percent per annum, it has not impacted in the same positive way on development and economic progress as the conventional banks have had on industrialized economies. There is today not a single Muslim country that can be classified as developed.

"We cannot ensure there are no rogues in the Islamic financial market or in the Islamic world. We hope that Islamic injunctions will restrain them. But we cannot be sure. Greed assails us all. When opportunities appear for making quick money, the rogues would not be deterred by mere religious prohibition," he added.

In this respect, he called on Muslim countries to adopt the best practices in banking regulation and supervision to protect savers and customers "even if this stifles the performance and the role of the banks in ensuring a better future for the Muslim World."
-Excerpts from the keynote speech given by Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed in Manama

From Mushtak Parker's report in Arab News
To see the full report click here

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