Extending Syariah practices in business and trade


BRUNEI Darussalam is putting laws in place aimed at extending the reach of Syariah practices across its economy, according to the Minister of Religious Affairs (MoRA), Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohamad Pg Hj Abdul Rahman.

Speaking exclusively to Oxford Business Group (OBG), the global publishing, research and consultancy firm, Pengiran Dato Mohammad Rahman said that new legislation would allow the Sultanate to extend Islamic principles, which already feature in Brunei's banking and insurance sectors, into other areas of business.

"Under Islamic Law, Syariah supports a number of business and trade activities which can be practised within the country's financial organisations and Brunei intends to introduce these methods in the field of business and trade," he said. "New laws are being drafted, while others are still under consideration. Some legislation has already been amended."

Pengiran Dato Mohammad Rahman said that MoRA was playing a key supporting role by providing businesses with experts to steer them in the principles of Islamic finance. "The Ministry is providing institutions with legal experts to help them follow the guidelines," he said. "Central to this field is riba (usury), the charging of interest payments, which is banned under Islamic Law."

The interview with Pengiran Dato Mohammad Rahman is featured in "The Report: Brunei Darussalam 2010", OBG's forthcoming business guide on the country's economic activity and investment opportunities. The report will include a detailed, sector-by-sector guide for foreign investors, together with a wide range of interviews with the most prominent political, economic and business leaders.

Rahman said that Brunei would benefit from the opening of the Sultan Sharif Ali Islamic University, which marks a first for the Sultanate by providing students with the opportunity to gain a post-graduate diploma on Islamic Law and Practice locally.

He said that the diploma broke new ground by offering a study of comparative law across both Civil and Syariah practices. "The diploma is unique in that it provides an opportunity for practitioners from the civil side to obtain a better understanding of Syariah Law, while Syariah graduates benefit by being exposed to the civil legal system," he said. "Appreciation and understanding of both areas are essential to produce and educate a society of academics and practitioners who will be able to utilise their skills and knowledge in the years to come."

MoRA has also made a key contribution in Brunei's bid to tackle poverty through its involvement in the jointly-run Empowerment Programme. The programme, which was set up in 2007, aims to provide training and skills across a range of fields, including ITC, hospitality and vehicle repair. "The Empowerment Programme has made significant achievements by finding people jobs or setting them up in business as part of a drive to eradicate poverty," he said.

"The Report: Brunei Darussalam 2010" marks the culmination of more than six months' on-the-ground research by a team of analysts from OBG, assessing trends and developments in all major sectors of the economy. It will provide information on opportunities for foreign direct investment into Brunei Darussalam's economy and will be a guide to the many facets of the country, including its macroeconomics, infrastructure, political landscape, banking and sectoral developments. The report will be available in print form or online.

About Oxford Business Group:

Oxford Business Group (OBG) is a global publishing, research and consultancy firm, which publishes economic and political intelligence on the markets of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean. Through its range of print and online products, OBG offers comprehensive and accurate analysis of political, macroeconomic and sectoral developments, including banking, capital markets, insurance, energy, transport, industry and telecoms. "The Report: Brunei Darussalam 2010" will be produced in partnership with the Prime Minister's Office, Deloitte & Touche Brunei and Dr Colin Ong Legal Services.

The Brunei Times

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