The Minister of Finance, Mr Matia Kasaija, has said no amount of opposition will stop the operationalisation of Islamic Banking in Uganda because it has already kicked off.
In an interview with Daily Monitor yesterday, Mr Kasaija revealed that in his Budget speech next week, he has prepared an explanation why the banking system was introduced in the country.
He said Islamic Banking is already operational in the country after he signed off the instruments operationalising it and said Ugandans should stop associating it with terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism.
“We already have Islamic Banking because I signed off the instruments. We should stop this thing of generalising all Muslims as terrorists. We already have money from their banks,” Mr Kasaija said, noting that banks such as the Islamic Development Bank are already using the system and giving Ugandans money.
“Their concept is that they do not believe in earning interest from the loans they give. Instead when you make profits, you share the profits and when you make losses, both the borrower and the lender share the losses,” he said.
During their annual general meeting last Saturday, bishops under their umbrella organisation Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC), which brings together Anglicans, Catholics and Orthodox churches, resolved to lobby government to stay the implementation of Islamic Banking system, arguing that they do not understand its motive and how it works.
This drew a backlash from Muslim leaders of various Islamic denominations in the country during Idd prayers on Tuesday, who warned the bishops to refrain from mobilising against Islamic Banking and advised them to seek knowledge from Ministry of Finance or Bank of Uganda if they want to understand how it works rather than undermining it through the media.
During their annual general meeting at Pope Paul Memorial Hotel in Kampala on Saturday, the bishops speculated that Muslims could be using Islamic Banking to offer financial and educational services as a bait to lure Christians into Islam.
During Idd prayers at Kibuli Mosque on Tuesday, Prince Kassim Nakibinge, the titular head of the Muslim community in Uganda, said Bank of Uganda and the Ministry of Finance are well acquainted with how the Islamic Banking system works and it is working in other parts of the world such as England, the home of the Head of the Anglican Church.
Besides spreading religion as their core mandate, faith-based institutions own strings of other businesses ranging from schools, printing and publishing houses and lately, they have ventured into banking and financial services.
The Muslims are affiliated to banks such as Tropical Bank and Cairo International Bank. The Catholic Church owns Centenary Bank.
The Orthodox and Anglican Churches recently came up with Ecumenical Church Loan Fund.