Jeddah to host major Islamic economic and finance conference: IDB official

JEDDAH: Finance, economy and planning ministers from 56 Muslim countries will attend a major Islamic economic and finance conference here next week, which is likely to be opened by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah at Jeddah Hilton on Monday.Ahmed Mohamed Ali, president of the Islamic Development Bank Group (IDB), emphasized on Wednesday the significance of the four-day conference, saying it would approve finances for new projects and discuss unemployment problem and other major development challenges facing member countries.Addressing a press conference at IDB headquarters, Ali said the bank had provided more than $70 billion worth of funding for social and economic projects in member countries and Muslim communities in non-member countries since its establishment in 1975.Of the total funds provided by the IDB, 40 percent went to finance projects and technical assistance, 58.8 percent to finance trade and 1.2 percent as grants to support Muslim communities. In 2010 alone, IDB gave $7 billion to finance 363 foreign trade deals.“All preparations have been completed for the conference, which will be attended by a number of senior ministers from Saudi Arabia and other countries,” the president said.“We hope that it will be one of the most successful IDB meetings.”More than 1,000 delegates including executives of Islamic banks and other financial institutions will attend the conference, which includes a meeting of IDB’s board of governors.He said a board of governors meeting, to be held on the sidelines of the conference, would approve $730 million in loans for 24 projects.

“There will be a special session to discuss the growing unemployment problem in member countries,” he said.Labor ministers from Saudi Arabia, Uganda and Malaysia will address the session.Highlighting the significance of the conference, the president said it offered a good opportunity for business leaders and decision-makers in the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) countries to exchange ideas and find effective solutions to various challenges.The IDB chief credited experts in the Muslim world for setting the bank’s vision through 2020. He said the various reform and restructuring programs introduced by the bank were instrumental in improving its efficiency.He also pointed out that major international agencies – Standard & Poor’s, Fitch Ratings and Moody’s — have given IDB the highest ‘AAA’ credit rating.

Ali ruled out cancelation of Libya’s membership of the bank as a result of political turmoil in the country.“Libya is a founding member of the IDB Group and you must keep in mind that we are an economic institution not a political one,” he said while answering a question.He said that this year’s venue for the annual meeting was shifted from Sanaa, Yemen to Jeddah due to political unrest in that country.The IDB decided to switch places to allow Yemen to hold the meeting in 2013 (which was scheduled for Jeddah) after Khartoum’s hosting of the next meeting in 2012.Speaking to Arab News, Waleed Al-Wohaib, CEO of International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), said intra-trade between IDB member countries rose from 14 percent in 2004 ($333 billion) to 16.63 percent in 2010 ($456 billion).

He was optimistic that ITFC would be able to achieve the intra-trade target of 20 percent by 2015, which was set by the OIC summit in Makkah.He said the IDB had given $38.7 billion to finance trade deals of member countries since January 2008 to the end of December 2010.He said the ITFC was successful in developing a new product two years ago to solve trade problems.Abdel-Rahman Taha, CEO of the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC), disclosed his organization’s plan to increase its capital from 150 million to 400 million Islamic dinars.“The capital increase will help ICIEC to expand its insurance capacity and play a greater role in the development of member countries,” he said.The proposal will be presented to the IDB board of governors for approval. – Arabnews