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Malaysia takes the lead

Badlisyah Abdul Ghani, chief executive of CIMB Islamic

Badlisyah Abdul Ghani, chief executive of CIMB Islamic

Having already introduced many tax and business incentives, Malaysia is consolidating its position as an up-and-coming hub for Islamic finance. Its policies reflect the belief that developing the sector is crucial to the country's future success. Writer Geraldine Lambe

At the opening dinner of the Malaysian central bank's 50th anniversary conference in Kuala Lumpur in February, Malaysian prime minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told the audience of visiting central bankers and economists that the development of Islamic finance will be critical to the country's future success.

The prime minister stressed the importance of Islamic finance as an alternative channel for intermediation and its competitiveness in terms of products and services. He was also keen to point out that Malaysia intends to leverage its experience in the sector as it continues to build the country as a regional – or even global – hub.

Malaysia has already gone a long way towards laying the foundations for its Islamic finance ambitions by way of tax incentives and business-friendly policies. In 2000, the government set out a 10-year masterplan that put together the strategic directions for the country's banking and capital markets. In late 2006, the Malaysian International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC) was set up to co-ordinate the various efforts by government and regulatory bodies.

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