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Suriname grants licence to first Islamic bank in Western Hemisphere
Published on October 3, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

CEO of the Islamic Development Corporation of the Private Sector (ICD), Khaled Al Aboodi (L), and the CEO of the Trust Bank, Maureen Badjoeri, signed an advisory services agreement in December 2015

By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor

PARAMARIBO, Suriname -- In major development that will see Suriname hosting the first Islamic bank in the Western Hemisphere, the Central Bank of Suriname has finally, granted the Trust Bank a licence to commence Islamic banking. Trust Bank plans to be in operation by the first quarter of 2017.

Foreign investment will now flow through Trust Bank and will be a boost to the Surinamese economy. The bank is now busy putting together the physical and human infrastructure to meet its target opening date.

A year ago, Trust Bank signed an advisory services agreement with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), the private sector arm of the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB) to process and support its conversion into Islamic compliant operations.

In discussing the vision and goals of the bank, the chief executive officer of Trust Bank, Maureen Badjoeri, said: “Within our new strategy, one of our ambitions is to contribute to the socio economic development of SMEs. Once becoming an Islamic Bank, and with the collaboration with ICD, Trust Bank wants to facilitate SMEs in more ways than just financially. With this approach, SMEs will be able to start-up or expand production of goods and services with a spin-off in job creation, trade, export and adding to GDP growth and strengthening of the Surinamese currency and economy.”

She added: “We want to reach our goals in financial inclusion, foster sustainable growth and development by offering Shariah-compliant products and services for the benefit of all.”

With the Trust Bank closer to reality, Suriname may emerge as a hub for Islamic banking and finance in the region. Guyana, for example, is now turning to Suriname for help to access economic and technical support from the IsDB.

Bahrain wants to invest in the banking industry of Suriname and, with its vast experience and expertise in Islamic banking, it’s a great match for the government of Suriname’s vision of becoming a financial hub. Moreover, with Guyana now a member of the IsDB, the Jeddah-based bank, is contemplating opening a branch in the Western Hemisphere and Suriname is being discussed as the choice of location.

On the heels of the official visit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) secretary general Iyad Ameen Madani’s visit to Suriname last week, the Central Bank of Suriname granted Trust Bank a licence to operate after some delays. Madani noted that Suriname can be a financial trading centre. He also envisions Suriname’s potential in the agricultural sector, and a major exporter of food in the region and to other OIC member countries.

Islamic banking is based on Islamic principles. The main principles are: the prohibition of interest, the prohibition on speculation and investment in alcohol, tobacco and gambling. Interest is replaced by a fee charged or some form of profit sharing.

Neither the IsDB nor Trust Bank of Suriname is a religious institution, a misunderstanding by many in Guyana and Suriname. Trust Bank will open its doors to all people of any religious background.
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