UK seeks Islamic finance for infra

The UK government has launched an Islamic Finance Task force with the aim of attracting sovereign wealth fund money to infrastructure development.

With its stated aim to “cement London’s status as the Western hub for Islamic Finance”, the UK government has launched an Islamic Finance Task Force. 
 
The Task Force will aim to facilitate inward investment and strengthen the economy, “including through our ongoing support for Sovereign Wealth Funds looking to invest in UK infrastructure” according to a statement from HM Treasury. 
 
The Task Force will be co-chaired by Greg Clark, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and Baroness Warsi, Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Additional ministerial support comes from Lord Green, Minister of Trade and Investment, and Alan Duncan, Minister of State for International Development. 
 
In October this year, London hosts the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF), an annual gathering which discusses the key economic issues facing the Islamic world. This is the first year WIEF has been held outside an Islamic or Asian city. 
 
“There are major opportunities to attract investment into the UK as demand for Islamic finance increases from private investors and Sovereign Wealth Funds,” said Warsi in the statement. 
 
When the UK’s coalition government launched its National Infrastructure Plan in 2011, it envisaged sovereign wealth fund money being a significant contributor to the circa 550 projects worth a combined £310 billion (€354 billion; $460 billion) that the Plan encompassed. 
 
However, a report last month in the Independent newspaper indicated that only 1 percent of these projects had been completed, while 18 percent had “started” or were “under construction”.