(MENAFN - Arab News) Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf yesterday commended the efforts of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in strengthening partnerships with the private sector and for its vast expertise in exploring project viability. Addressing a ceremony organized by the bank to launch its business forum entitled "Thiqah," the minister also noted IDB's endeavors to boost the economic and social development of member countries.
"IDB is considered a pioneer in promoting partnerships with the private sector. It began trade financing more than three decades ago and have lately seen some multilateral financial organizations, giving importance to this side, especially in the wake of global financial crisis," the minister said.
He said the launching of Thiqah denotes the bank's desire to make innovations and adapt to the requirements of member countries. He said the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), an affiliate of the IDB group, could play a vital role in mobilizing investors in member countries.
Al-Assaf urged OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference) businessmen to make their contributions to IDB's endeavors to combat poverty and back its endowment fund in order to support Muslim communities in non-member countries.
"I take this opportunity to call upon the business sector in Saudi Arabia and other member countries to establish contacts with the forum in order to boost cooperation and strengthen expertise," he added.
IDB President Ahmed Mohammed Ali congratulated the business community on the launching of the forum. He said such a forum was essential for confronting the challenges of financial crises.
He said the extraordinary Islamic summit in Makkah called by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah three years before the present financial crisis reflected the king's farsightedness as he wanted to prepare the Ummah to face such crises. Ali said the 10-point program approved by the Makkah summit urged the private sector to make innovative investment in expertise and resources.
The IDB chief emphasized the need to mobilize financial resources through private sector partnerships rather than depending only on the bank capital.
"IDB wants to play the role of a driving force and a bridge between this distinguished gathering of successful people and investment opportunities," the president said.
He said prominent businessmen who attended a meeting held at IDB headquarters last year to discuss this forum had called to focus on sectors such as agriculture, health, education, infrastructure and Islamic finance in order to fight poverty.
Ali called upon businessmen in the member countries to interact with Thiqah in order to make use of its services and give their valuable advices to strengthen the forum in order to carry out its mission. "The establishment of the forum comes within the framework of the Islamic Development Bank Group in financing and supporting the development efforts of its members and it is expected that the forum will achieve greater convergence among the group and the private sector, taking into account the growing role played by the private sector in economic development in member countries," Ali added.
"The aim of the business forum is to foster a strategic partnership between the IDB Group and the private sector and, in particular, the pioneers who distinguished themselves in the implementation of investment projects in their home countries and have the desire to invest in their countries or other members of the IDB," Ali added.
"The forum is a communication tool to help provide the elements of the successful investment of the private sector through harnessing the potential investment of the group, whether knowledge or financial, and provide economic products and services and investment, trade and a guarantee of credit for exports, and other elements of success required under one umbrella — the business forum," Khaled Mohammed Al-Aboodi, CEO and general manager of ICD, said at the forum.
While highlighting the importance of the business forum, Al-Aboodi said, "Thiqah will play a greater role in the development of new partnerships and innovative products to respond to the changing needs of the private sector, since it will be a base for continuous dialogue and consultation between the IDB and the private sector."
By Khalil Hanware