09 May 2012 12:00 am | | 0


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Mohamed Nouri (middle), COFIT’s founder, presents the association’s objectives and planned activities for 2012.“Sixty percent of Muslims worldwide don’t know about Islamic finance,” said Mohamed Nouri, a professor of Islamic finance and economy at the European Institute of Humanities in Paris. And Tunisia is no exception. “Basic Islamic financial products like ijara, salam, and murabaha are unknown to most Tunisians.”The newly-established Council of Islamic Finance in Tunisia (COFIT) held a press conference today to present the association’s activities for 2012 as well as its twelve ad-hoc committees to publicize Islamic finance to Tunisian individuals and financial institutions.“With the industrialized world facing the current economic crisis, Islamic finance is attracting the interest of many people. England and France have already opened up to Islamic finance. Russia has started to issue sukuks (Islamic bonds), and China is considering doing the same thing,” said Nouri.In Tunisia, Zitouna Islamic bank is seeing its market share in financial services increase. For the panel at the COFIT conference, the major question looking forward is ‘how to integrate Islamic finance into the judicial framework.’“In other countries, you have associations that support the efforts of Islamic finance, such as the Council of Islamic Financial Services in Malaysia and the French Institute for Islamic Finance in France,” pointed out Nouri. “Why shouldn’t we do the same here in Tunisia?”COFIT’s members, including Nouri and Zitouna bank agency director Wadi Mzid, are working alongside the Finance Ministry to establish a legislative framework that would define Islamic financial products.The complementary budget for 2012 already plans to provide tax advantages for Islamic financial institutions so that they can compete on level ground with conventional ones.For Mzid, this measure doesn’t go far enough. “It is risky to provide Islamic financial products in Tunisia since the law doesn’t specify the rights and roles of the provider and the client,” he said.There are seven different commissions currently drawing up legislative proposals on Islamic finance. According to Mzid, their recommendations are to be presented to the Constituent Assembly, and the abovementioned issue will be addressed.COFIT, which is a not-for-profit association, was established in March, pursuant law-decree No. 88 of September 24, 2011. The next forum to be held by COFIT is slated for May 29 and will touch upon the legislative experiences of other countries regarding Islamic finance.

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