Published On: Mon, Oct 13th, 2014

Islamic Bank president visits Suriname to expand ties

Islamic bankPARAMARIBO, Suriname -- Dr Ahmad Mohamed Ali al-Madani, president of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), and his delegation arrived in Paramaribo on Sunday on a private jet to open the "Islamic Development Bank/Suriname Day", which officially opened on Monday. Suriname is the only country in the Americas that is a member of the IsDB.

Ali al-Madani holds a BA degree in commerce and a degree in law from Cairo University, Egypt. He earned MA and PhD degrees, both in public administration, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and State University of New York (SUNY), Albany, USA, respectively in 1962 and 1967.

Suriname recently entered into an "Interim Member Country Partnership Strategy," with the Islamic Bank to improve cooperation but, according to Gillmore Hoefdraad, president of the Central Bank of Suriname (CBvS), Suriname wants to move beyond this "modest" relationship and enter a permanent "Member Country Partnership Strategy" with the Islamic Bank. This new relationship generated an additional US$96.5 million to fund various projects in the health and education sector.

Hoefdraad said, "The IsDB has in recent years proved to be a solid financial institution and partner. That is one of the reasons why the government has involved the IsDB as one of its main development partners for the national development plan 2012-2016."

"The Islamic Development bank and its institutions are here for the development efforts of the public and private sectors to support Suriname," he added.

Hoefdraad, with the support of the Bouterse government, is credited for enhancing Paramaribo's ties with the Islamic Bank to new heights.

President of Suriname, Desi Bouterse, on Monday addressed the opening of IsDB/Suriname Day in Paramaribo. Bouterse and al-Madani issued a press statement in which they both pledged further cooperation between the Bank and Suriname.

On Monday the Islamic Bank and Suriname launched the construction of the New Academic Medical Centre in Paramaribo to improve and modernize healthcare.

During the launch of the hospital, Bouterse said that his government is on track with the implementation of its "people-oriented policy."

"We are well on the way," the Surinamese president said.

According to the IsDB, this event in Suriname, the first of its kind here, is meant to "increase awareness about IsDB products and services offered to its member countries; showcase the successful implementation of Interim-MCPS by laying the foundation stone of the largest health facility of the country in a very short time span of one year and preparation for the full-fledged Member Country Partnership Strategy in the coming year."

The Islamic Bank also wants to "engage with the private sector/ state owned enterprises through entities of the IsDB Group (PPP, ICD, ICIEC, ITFC, IRTI), to explore and initiate new business and investment opportunities."

Future projects in the pipeline between the Islamic Bank and Suriname total about US$300 million.

The Islamic Bank Group will hold workshops through October 15 for stakeholders in the private and public sectors regardless of race and religious background government officials in Paramaribo stressed. Financing is open to all segments of Suriname's multi-cultural society and benefit all Surinamese.

By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor

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