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Government ‘committed’ to expanding Islamic products

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Australia is a growth market for Islamic financial services including insurance, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer Bernie Ripoll says.

“Islamic finance is a rapidly expanding market, with annual global growth estimated at about 15% to 20%,” he told the Amanie Australia Islamic Finance Forum in Melbourne.

“Some projections suggest the Islamic finance market will be worth $US2 trillion ($1.9 trillion) within the next three to four years.”

Islamic finance has developed to become an option for Muslim and non-Muslim consumers alike, Mr Ripoll says.

“We are proud our nation protects freedom of religion under our highest law. Because of this, banks and other financial institutions are free to implement measures designed to appeal to specific market segments [such as the Islamic community].

“The Government wants the introduction of Islamic financial services products to grow the sector… [it] regards the introduction of Islamic finance products to the domestic market as a way to open our financial services sector to new opportunities for growth.

“Because Australia’s regulatory arrangements already allow Shariah-compliant funds to be established here, the potential for new opportunities exists at the institutional level.”

There are more than 470,000 Muslims in Australia who may use Islamic financial services if they are more accessible, according to the Government.

“The introduction of Islamic finance products to the Australian market is not a replacement for other forms of finance, but rather a door to new opportunities for our financial services sector,” Mr Ripoll said.

“While Islamic finance is still in its early stages here in Australia, it offers much potential and this is why the Australian Government is committed to further developing Islamic finance.”