By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
GEORGETOWN, Guyana — Guyana wants to take advantage of Islamic finance and has been receiving support from the Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group, which has helped neighbouring Suriname in the opening of the first Islamic bank in the region.
However, Guyana now wants to expand that support as it seeks to bring the lucrative Islamic banking and finance sector to Guyana.
Guyana joined the IsDB as its 57th member in 2016.
After a visit by Guyana’s ambassador to Kuwait, Dr Shamir Ally, to the headquarters of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the IsDB last week, the director general of IRTI, Dr Humayon Dar, promised to continue providing support to promote awareness of Islamic finance in Guyana, according to a press release from IRTI.
Ally also met Dr Bandar M. Hajjar, president of the IsDB.
Ally, who is also Guyana’s IsDB alternate governor, visited IRTI to seek assistance to create and support the introduction of Islamic financial services in Guyana, especially that the Islamic Bank will open a regional branch in Paramaribo, Suriname.
Responding to the request, the IRTI director general expressed the institute’s readiness to continue to support Guyana’s authorities to take the necessary steps for introducing Islamic finance.
Earlier in his remarks, Ally told the IRTI director general that, given the composition of the Guyana population, it was important to sensitize the people on the benefits of Islamic finance. Dar agreed that, to introduce Islamic finance in a country like Guyana, whose Muslim population is a minority, it is necessary to promote awareness so that Guyanese can first understand the value proposition of Islamic finance.
He added that Guyana can learn a lot from experiences of other Muslim-minority countries like Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Suriname, and Uganda, which successfully introduced Islamic finance. He said IRTI would consider organizing activities aimed at fostering awareness of Islamic finance in Guyana.
IRTI had previously organized a workshop on Islamic finance in Suriname with the participation of officials of Guyana’s central bank and other institutions.
The IRTI is the member of the IsDB Group responsible for enabling the development and sustenance of a dynamic and comprehensive Islamic financial services industry, which supports socio-economic development of member countries and Muslim communities worldwide.