KUALA LUMPUR: Building high resilience economies and businesses is important for preserving stability and promoting equitable growth, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
“None of us can totally shield ourselves from the vagaries and uncertainties of rapidly changing markets and currency fluctuations.
“It is therefore, more important than ever, that we build economies and businesses with high resilience to preserve stability and promote equitable growth,” he said in a keynote address at the 11th World Islamic Economic Forum’s (WIEF) opening session here Tuesday.
Najib is also patron of the WIEF Foundation and the Forum is making a return to Kuala Lumpur following its founding in 2005.
He said the theme, “Building Resilience for Equitable Growth”, is appropriate, given the challenges facing the global economy.
The three-day 11th WIEF will see the participation of 3,069 delegates comprising global leaders, ministers, speakers, exhibitors and artistes from 98 countries across five continents.
Najib said the participants must address inequalities in the distribution of wealth, both across and within nations, to safeguard social stability and promote an agenda of global inclusion, peace and prosperity.
He said there are millions of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) thriving in communities across the Islamic world today.
“Moving forward, we need to provide them greater opportunities to expand and be able to compete in wider markets. In this mission, these SMEs face the same challenge as all those worldwide, that is, a lack of funding,” he added.
According to Najib, there is a financing gap of up to US$13 billion for SME Islamic financing in the Middle East and the North Africa region.
He said Islamic finance which is currently gaining greater visibility is in a better position to assist the SME industry.
For example, he added, as of last year, Malaysia’s total SME financing exposure in Islamic finance grew by 40.5 per cent year-on-year to more than US$10 billion.
“Islamic finance, with its equity-based partnership schemes, offers a truly workable alternative to conventional banking, It is also a partnership that embeds the participating financial institution as a provider of advise and consultancy.
“With the sharing of risks and its rewards, the Islamic requirement for fairness and equity is served,” Najib said.