Qatar wants to invest in PH via Islamic bonds

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Qatar, through its state-run holding company, is keen on funding energy projects in the Philippines but prefers to do so through an Islamic financial system, a leader of the country’s lone Islamic bank said Tuesday, October 3.

Alex Bangcola, chairman and chief executive officer of Al Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines (Al Amanah), was told by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) that it has at least $320 billion worth of funds which may be used for energy projects.

“We can access that with Islamic banks,” he told participants at the Energy Investment Forum and Stakeholders Conference here.

In the case of the Philippines, Al Amanah will be the only Islamic bank available to facilitate the financing schemes of the energy projects.

“If there’s anybody interested, we have a branch in Davao,” he said.

The Al Amanah CEO said he met QIA officials in Doha last week, where he was told that the government of Qatar has at least $320 billion worth of excess funds which can be used for foreign investments.

He said QIA would like sIslamic banks to facilitate the financing of the projects through sukuk, or Islamic financial certificates that comply with sharia laws.

Sukuk plays an important role in neighboring economies like Indonesia and Malaysia, which use these financial papers to fund infrastructure projects. 

Sukuk can be compared with government bonds, only that these financial papers do not follow the Western banking concept of riba or interest.

Under Islamic banking, a holder of a sukuk means he or she holds “ownership” in the investment “and the bank becomes a business partner,” he said.

QIA is Qatar’s holding company which was founded in 2005 to manage the country’s oil and gas surpluses. It has interests in Asia-Pacific, as well as in the United States and Europe. –