MARAWI City’s devastation has generated concern for its rehabilitation and reconstruction from seven universities in the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN).

That’s why the forthcoming 6th ASEAN Universities International Conference on Islamic Finance (AICIF) to be organized and hosted by the Mindanao State University (MSU) System is very relevant and timely with the recent groundbreaking for the city’s rehabilitation and reconstruction.MSU Marawi from Wikimedia CommonsMindanao State University Main Campus, Marawi City. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The event will be held on November 14-15 at the New World Hotel in Makati City, Metro Manila. AICIF’s hosting rotates among seven ASEAN universities, which are members of the International Council for Islamic Finance Educators (ICIFE) based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Ground Zero of Marawi siege

MSU’s Main Campus is right in the Ground Zero of the five months Marawi siege that broke out on May 23, 2017 after combined bands of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Maute Group (MG), which both swore loyalty to the terrorist ISIS/IS/Daesh in the Middle East,  laid siege to the Philippines’ self-proclaimed Islamic City.

The siege triggered a war as President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to quell the uprising. Damage to the city, including infrastructure — buildings, hospitals, schools, houses, etc. — amounted to over Php17 billion.

A Philippine Daily Inquirer research should the human toll of the siege: 822 terrorists killed; 163 soldiers and policemen and 47 civilian slain (not counting the missing); and over 1,700 government troops wounded.

Over 230,000 residents were displaced ( Time online) and most still have to return to their area of residence.

MSU headed by Dr. Habib W. Macaayong, is a member of ICIFE’s whose principal objective “is to increase and maintain the professionalism of the educators in Islamic Finance field at the national and international level.”

dr-habib-w-macaayong-on-fb-b.pngMSU System President Dr. Habib W. Macaayong. (Photo: MSU)

Aside from the MSU System, ICIFE members are the International Islamic University, Malaysia (IIUM); Tazkia University, Indonesia; Universitas Darussalam Gontor, Indonesia; Universitas Islam Negeri Sunan Kalijaga, Indonesia; Sultan Sharif Ali Islamic University, Brunei Darussalam; and Universitas Islam Sultan Agung, Indonesia.

Sukuk financing for Marawi rebuilding

For the two-day conference,  participants will have five Plenary Sessions (with Parallel Sessions), such as I. Sukuk Financing: A Viable Strategy to Finance Sustainable Development, II. Financial Innovation in Application to Islamic Finance, II. Potentials of Islamic Finance, IV. Comparative Regulatory Framework among Southeast Asian Nations, and V. Challenges of Shari’ah Compliance, Disclosure and Regulating Form.

Macaayong has invited the President to deliver the Keynote Speech, but he will be sending in his stead Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno of the Department of the Budget and Management (DBM).

For Day 2 of the event, Malaysia’s Minister of Education Yang Berhomat Dr. Mazslee Bin Malik will give the Keynote Speech.

After the Opening Ceremony, participants will deep-dive straightaway into the first plenary topic, Sukuk or the Shari’ah-compliant Islamic Bond as they explore and find ways to harness Sukuk to fund Marawi City’s planned rebuilding.

Organizers of the conference are of the opinion that its “timing could not have come at a better time because the MSU Main Campus just next to the fighting’s Ground Zero.

“The opportunity to tap into the resources of Islamic finance and harness its social functions will then demonstrate the soundness of its principles and scheme in the area of rehabilitation and rebuilding the lives of internally displaced persons (IDPs) after a catastrophe,” they pointed out.

During the first plenary discussion, the panelists are expected to present the structure of Sukuk to see how it can be of benefit to the economy as a source of fund from a new diverse investor based to rebuild Marawi City.

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Special Purpose Vehicles

They will be presenting their views on Sukuk through the creation of Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) believed to provide better transparency, thereby, reducing corruption and wastage as productive assets must be to work to generate rental income for investors, rather than disappearing into offshore banking centers or participating in deliberately overpriced projects, the organizers said.

Presentations, speeches and panel discussions will revolve around the theme titled “Strengthening Islamic Finance in Southeast Asia through Innovation, Collaboration and Research” as the participants will dwell and delve on the intricacies of Islamic finance, its benefits to the world, countries, and communities and the challenges holding back its adoption, among others.

They will cover subject areas such as Islamic Banking and Capital Market; Corporate Governance; Money Payment System and Financial Innovation; Takaful and Risk Management; and Islamic Social Finance, etc.

Participants include academicians; practitioners; researchers and regulators; international business leaders who offer Islamic financial products; policy-makers; political leaders; senior government officials from countries that have adopted Islamic finance; technology company C-level executives; business development managers; innovators in the financial technology (fintech) sector; ethical finance leaders; business specialists and managers; mid-level management executives; business development manages, analysts; risk professionals in Islamic finance sector; Shari’ah scholars; advisors; lawyers and other legal experts.

AICIF is conducted every year, with the host rotated among ICIFE member-universities. ICIFE is seen as the “global body for professional certification and accreditation of Islamic finance educators.” (EKU)