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Kuwait accounts for 6% of Islamic banking assets: Al-Awadhi

CBK proactive in strengthening supervision to ensure financial stability

The CBK-IFSB Islamic finance conference in Kuwait City

Following is the opening address by Waleed Al-Awadhi, Executive Director, Supervision Sector, Central Bank of Kuwait at the CBKIFSB conference on Islamic finance in Kuwait City. — Editor

Excellencies, Governors of central banks and monetary authorities, Dr Bello Lawal Danabatta, Secretary- General of Islamic Financial Services Board, Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen! Assalam-o-Alaikum and a very good morning.

It is a great pleasure and honor for the Central Bank of Kuwait to host the ‘10th IFSB Public Lecture on Financial Policy and Stability IFSB’.

I wish to welcome all officials, central bank governors, heads of regulatory and supervisory authorities, financial institutions, and distinguished delegation of the IFSB members to the Annual Meetings and Side Events of the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) in 2018.

In particular, I would like to thank the IFSB, and it’s Secretary General Dr. Bello Lawal Danbatta for their support in organizing this 10th IFSB Public Lecture on Financial Policy and Stability IFSB, in conjunction with the IFSB annual meeting. As a founding member, the CBK is pleased to be able to host such events and support the IFSB in its noble goals to promote the soundness and stability of the Islamic finance industry.

Let me also welcome the two distinguished speakers for the public lecture: Professor Dr Monzer Kahf and HE Emeritus Professor Dr Ishrat Husain In line with the agenda of the program, my remarks will focus on the central theme of this event which is financial stability.

In this respect, I will reflect upon the macro prudential policies required to safeguard financial stability and will then elaborate on some of the policies and practices in the Central Bank of Kuwait. Let me start with macro prudential policies for financial stability. Subsequent to the financial crisis, which struck the global markets and economies in 2008, policymakers and regulators have considered financial stability as an overriding policy objective.

In this respect, the Basel Committee has indicated in its Core Principles for Effective Supervision the need for having a well-established framework for financial stability policy formation. A sound and stable financial system is a key perquisite for economic growth. Financial stability is critical to a healthy, well-functioning economy.

A stable financial system is one in which financial intermediaries, markets and infrastructure facilitate the smooth fl ow of funds between savers and investors and, by doing so, help promote economic activity. Financial stability is, however, not an end in itself; it is an important precondition for balanced and sustainable economic growth.

From this perspective, the safeguarding of financial stability can be seen as a forward-looking task — one that seeks to identify vulnerabilities within the financial system and, where possible, take mitigating actions. Central banks now place more importance and pay additional attention to the way that monetary policy and financial stability are linked. To this end, the role of the macro prudential policies to achieve financial stability has become critical for a stable financial and banking sector.

Hence, there is an obvious need for macro prudential policies designed and directed to achieve the financial stability. Now, let me reflect on financial stability in the context of the Kuwaiti financial system. Let me start by providing a brief overview of the financial system in Kuwait.

As a regulator, the CBK governs Kuwait’s domestic banks, foreign banks operating in the country, finance companies, and exchange companies.

The Kuwaiti financial system is dominated by the banking sector, holding 83% market share, and is well diversified. The domestic banking sector is composed of 5 Islamic banks, 5 conventional banks and one specialized bank.

The conventional banks hold more than 60 percent of the total banking system assets on a consolidated basis, this share remained broadly stable since 2007.

Kuwait has played a pioneering role in the global Islamic finance industry, with its first Islamic bank, Kuwait Finance House, established back in 1977. Kuwait is an important player in the Islamic finance industry, accounting for 6% of worldwide Islamic banking assets.

All developments pertaining to Islamic finance are documented in the ‘Islamic Finance in Kuwait: Broadening Horizons’ Report, which demonstrates our continued commitment to support the growth and development of the Islamic finance Industry.

This report, which I encourage you to read, provides an overview of the development of the industry in Kuwait, with analyses, insights, case studies and interviews with Islamic banks operating in the country. For the promotion of Islamic fi-nance, we work closely with the international institutions, including international Islamic finance bodies such as the IFSB, the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), the International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM), and the International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM).

Now let me discuss some of our policies and practices for ensuring financial stability. From the beginning, the Central Bank of Kuwait has been the lead regulator of Kuwait’s banking — centric financial system, and devotes considerable resources and attention to ensure a sound and stable financial system in the country.

In 2010, a separate Financial Stability Office (FSO) has been set up with the mandate to regularly examine developments in the financial sector.

The Financial Stability Report (FSR) is a flagship publication of the FSO, evaluating the performance of various components of the financial system and serving as a key surveillance tool for the CBK.

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