Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ed Balls opens London Islamic Financial Services Summit

Economic Secretary for HM Treasury Ed Balls opened the London Islamic Financial Services Summit with a speech detailing how the U.K. government has adjusted its tax and regulatory system in order to make Shari'ah-compliant products competitive in a tax sense with conventional products. Mr. Balls noted that:
"Increased availability of these types of financial products is vital to ensuring the Muslim community in Britain has equal access to business opportunities. Banks such as Lloyds TSB, Royal Bank of Scotland, and HSBC are all offering Shariah compliant products, and London is also the home to a fully Shariah compliant retail bank. Since 2003 the Islamic mortgage market has grown to over half a billion pounds - an increase of about 50% in the last year alone."

He describes how one of the focuses has been on reforming tax law for sukuk to give them the same tax advantages as corporate bonds and securitizations. He also announced a meeting at No. 11 Downing Street (the official residence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown) with the experts of Islamic finance.

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