The Ministry of Finance is working on amendments to laws regulating the issuance of Islamic bonds (sukuk) as a means of filling a LE251-billion budget gap, which is susceptible to increase, an official at the Finance Ministry has said.
The ministry is “racing against time” to issue the Islamic bonds law, Sami Khallaf, the ministry’s head of public debt, told Al-Masry Al-Youm.
Khallaf said that amendments to the law, which was issued under the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, have recently been submitted to Finance Minister Hani Qadri Demian, who is expected to refer them for a vote by parliament. They will also be reviewed by al-Azhar, the official said.
The amendments rule out the sale or mortgage of state assets, a possibility that caused a big outcry when the law was first introduced, according to Khallaf.
Bonds issued under the proposed law will not be related to banks and corporations, but exclusively to sovereign bonds, according to Khallaf.
However, some observers are still skeptical about the law.
Momtaz al-Saeed, a former finance minister, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that conditions on the world market are not right for the issuing of Islamic bonds. “I believe the issuance of the law will be deferred a little bit, given world market fluctuations.”
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm