Pakistan launches media campaign to boost Islamic finance

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The central bank is rolling out a five-year plan for Pakistan’s Islamic banking sector, which follows religious principles such as bans on interest and pure monetary speculation. “There still prevails a significant population that is either unaware of Islamic banking or have confusions and misconceptions about its current paradigm,” said central bank governor Yaseen Anwar at the launch of the campaign on Thursday. The campaign, developed alongside local Islamic banks, would help the industry reach ambitious targets including a doubling of its branch network in five years and a 15 percent share of the banking system, Anwar added. As of March, the industry held an 8.7 percent share of banking assets and 9.7 percent of deposits, central bank data shows.

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More than six times the three-month daily average of shares were traded. Housing Finance, which said in February it will build 500 homes this year, reported a 59 percent increase in first-half net income to 397 million shillings ($4.6 million) in a statement yesterday. Net interest income, the money earned from interest charges on loans, increased 58 percent to 1.38 billion shillings. We expect further loan-book growth from rising credit demand as Housing Finance has lowered its base-lending rate to 16 percent from 18 percent and from a more stable macroeconomic environment, Vidur Dhingra, an analyst at Nairobi-based Kestrel Capital (East Africa) Ltd., said today in an e-mailed note.

An investor, with henna-dyed hair, monitors an electronic board displaying stock prices at Karachi Stock Exchange July 16, 2010. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/Files

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