Doha: Taxation of Shariah-compliant financial products and transactions was the main topic examined by a distinguished group of experts meeting in Doha.
Among the subjects discussed were the Qatar Financial Centre Authority ‘s ( QFC Authority ) taxation of Islamic transactions research project and how Islamic finance transactions are structured in practice.
The seminar, which took place at the W Hotel Doha, was held under the auspices of the GCC branch of the International Fiscal Association (IFA). It is the second successive year in which the QFC Authority has hosted a meeting of the branch in Doha.
The seminar started with a presentation by Mohammed Desin, a partner at Ernst & Young, who looked at the growth potential for Islamic finance in the region, and provided a clear explanation of why Shariah-compliant products were important.
The keynote speaker, Mohammed Amin an Islamic finance consultant, discussed the research he conducted earlier in the year on the cross-border taxation of Islamic finance in the MENA region which was sponsored and supported by the QFC Authority . The impetus behind the research, for which Malaysia and the UK were comparators, was to suggest tax policies for countries wishing to develop a supportive tax regime for Islamic finance.
Amin observed: “There’s very little legislation for Islamic finance. Countries are at very different stages of development. For example, of the countries which responded to our study enquiries, only Turkey and the Qatar Financial Centre have specific rules for Sukuk.”
Another speaker, Moshin Iqbal from Latham and Watkins, described in detail some real transactions in the GCC region, and identified pitfalls for the unwary investor. He commented: “A comprehensive legal structure is essential in any jurisdiction to ensure that Sharia’ah finance is successful.”
Ian Anderson, CFO and Director of Tax, QFC Authority chaired the meeting, which was attended by tax experts across the GCC, lawyers, accountants, bankers and representatives from the Ministry of Finance.
Anderson said: “Islamic finance is growing rapidly in many parts of the world, not least in the Gulf. Improving the understanding of taxation of Islamic finance is therefore increasingly important – and our seminar took significant steps in that direction. It has been a privilege to host an important IFA meeting in Doha for the second consecutive year. As a leading financial centre offering a very attractive environment for Islamic finance, the QFC Authority has a deep interest in the taxation of Islamic finance. We will continue to support research and encourage debate to help advance knowledge in this area.”
© The Peninsula 2013