The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi recently announced that efforts are currently under way to further liberalise the domestic financial landscape in Malaysia, with proper strategies, policies and infrastructure that are already in place. Further liberalisation will occur given the increase in the allowable foreign equity participation of up to 49% for both Islamic banking and takaful. The issuance of international Islamic bank and takaful licences to qualified foreign and Malaysian financial institutions was aimed at giving beneficiaries the ability to offer a full range of Islamic banking capabilities.
The Prime Minister said one important landmark of the liberalisation efforts was the ability of Islamic financial institutions to open branch offices anywhere in Malaysia. Going forward, a more competitive environment is envisioned that will further drive progress in the development of Malaysia's Islamic financial system.
The Premier added that the Government would continue to take concerted efforts to enhance Malaysia's position as an Islamic financial hub. In this regard, the Government has proposed the development of the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC) in order to offer offshore Islamic financial products and services from anywhere in Malaysia. MIFC will propel Malaysia to become a vibrant and competitive international Islamic financial services centre supported by high-calibre human capital, world-class infrastructure and best international practices.