SAUDI ARABIA - Finance
CEO, The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD)
Mr. Ayman Amin Sejiny is the CEO of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the private sector (ICD). Mr. Sejiny is a highly accomplished financial industry leader with in-depth knowledge and more than 29 years’ experience in investment and corporate banking in the local, regional and international markets. Mr. Ayman is board member of Kidana Development Company owned by the Royal Commission for Makkah Al-Mukarramah and member of the investment committee in King Abdullah Foundation. Moreover, he is the vice-chairman of the International Development Finance Club (IDFC). Mr. Sejiny served as CEO of Barclays Capital Saudi Arabia, Assistant General Manager in Citi Bank and was a Senior Manager in ABN AMRO affiliate in Saudi Arabia.
How would you characterize the potential for Islamic finance and economics to provide out-of-the-box innovations to mitigate economic strains and provide solutions as we move out of the pandemic?
There are three stages here. There is the big-picture stage, where we go for a large size issuance of Sukuk. It is considered an alternative investment vehicle for institutions and hedge funds investing in it. We are focusing on green and blue Sukuk in order to help the sustainability of the economies in our member countries. This also depends on the issuance that they do. We have +119 financial institutions in our network, and we have ownership in some of them. With financial inclusion, we have enabled people to stay safe during COVID-19. With technology, we have been able to provide services and products that have a better reach. On the other side, we have the Zakat that has been used in Islamic finance as a tool to provide emergency support in the short term. It can be used from donors and requires disbursement within one year of being given.
How do you see the ecosystem of Islamic finance branching and connecting out to conventional financial firms as a way of developing in Islamic finance?
The ecosystem of Islamic finance acts with the reality of our daily lives without any interference as many might expect. It is important to say that Islamic finance has the right structure in place. If it is a real bankable transaction, then the transaction will happen. All the rest of the internal program regarding how we need to have it documented or how it must be worded falls into place. Also, Sukuk continues to be an important source of much-needed capital as an alternative means of mobilizing medium- to long-term savings. There is an increased demand for sustainable infrastructure development across the globe. At the same time, it helps meet the ambition of the objectives of Vision 2030 and supports mega infrastructure projects and the target of economic growth. In Saudi Arabia, the government, through Sukuk issuance, can access more financing from domestic as well as international markets.
What role can Islamic financing and ICD play in achieving Vision 2030?
Saudi Arabia, like all the member countries, enjoys utilizing our products. We do Sukuk issuance, which is for infrastructure. We can issue green and blue Sukuk for such things as tollways, power plants, solar projects, aqua projects, and any other environmentally friendly projects. We also have term financing for 12-18 years, which is really helpful for banks. The third is public-private partnerships (PPPs), which can all be structured in a Shari’ah-compliant manner. They make total sense in that program. The other business line that we consider attractive is providing private equity investments from our side and perhaps bringing other investors into some transactions that might be of interest for local and international investors. We also have the business line of asset management. We can create a fund for a specific project or a vision of a particular transaction.
Are you looking into promoting a business line in one region over another?
We work across the board, and it depends on the member country and how they would like to utilize it. Some are not interested in Sukuk issuance but are interested in term financing or PPPs. Whereas the others just want us to have a private equity investment in a financial institution, so we provide line of finance to those entities. This has been extremely helpful. For example, if there is an SME in Senegal, I cannot do a good job of evaluating or analyzing the entity in Senegal from Jeddah. We have the Senegal Islamic Bank which has the relevant expertise, and we are a shareholder in it. At the same time, we provide it with a line of finance. It analyzes SMEs on the ground in Senegal. They know how to disburse the money, collect it back, and monitor it during that time period. If they must take it to court, they are in a much better position than us in Jeddah.
What are ICD’s goals and expectations for the rest of this year and looking ahead into 2022?
Our main requirement is to meet our mandate expectation, which is focused on SMEs. We always want to ensure we remain focused on supporting them. This is an important part of the creation of ICD. In particular, ICD will focus more on industries and thematic areas that contribute toward addressing the key constraints that affect member countries, like the financial sector of development, sustainable, physical, as well as social infrastructures. We always make our decisions on the SDG targets of the UN. The more we can tick the SDG boxes, the more we have the target in place. We think of improving workflow in the workplace, looking at equal opportunities, improving environmentally friendly transactions, and increasing employment. It has always been part of our Shariah-compliant teachings. In terms of regional orientation, ICD will seek to be active across all regions while pursuing the strategic objectives of the regional diversification. ICD will prioritize high-impact projects that have the potential to create jobs, especially amongst youth and women. We would like to build the sustainable infrastructure of our member countries with a focus on green financing of projects. As the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDBG), that is with ICD, ITFC and ICIEC, we are approaching our member countries with a full package solution. Since, the IsDB provides the government type of funding, as required, it knows we are supporting government projects or transactions in the private sector making sure that the trade will reap the benefits once it comes to that stage. We also look at how the insurance can cover them as required. On the other hand, ICD is keen in partnering with multilaterals (i.e IFC, KFW, EBRD and others). The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that global partnerships and multilateral cooperation is the cornerstone in overcoming global challenges and tackling common threats.
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