Museveni to meet Muslim leaders on PDM integration in Salaam Bank

President Yoweri Museveni speaking at the official launch of Islamic Banking in Uganda at Kololo Independence grounds on Wednesday, March 27, 2024 (Photo/PPU)

Kampala, (UG):- President Yoweri Museveni Wednesday said he plans to meet Muslim leaders and Sheikhs in Uganda over a discussion on the integration of the Muslim community in the Parish Development Model (PDM) in a way which does not contradict the Islamic faith.

Mr Museveni, while addressing the Muslim faithful at Kololo during the official launch of Salaam Bank, Uganda’s first-ever Islamic banking institution, said that the government does not discriminate against faith, which is why he seeks to address concerns raised by Muslims that PDM contradicts with their religion because the program aimed at poverty alleviation encourages charging Riba (interest).

“The riba issue came into place recently when we launched the Parish Development Model. But, if you convince me that the PDM and Emyooga money have some contradictions as per the Islamic teachings, then I will find a way to send your money directly to this Salaam Bank,” Mr Museveni said.

Earlier, the national coordinator of the Office of the National Chairman (ONC) Hadijah Namyalo Uzeiye told President Museveni that as much as Muslims want to get involved in wealth creation programmes, they can’t contradict the teachings of the Islamic faith, which is why they are now happy with the Islamic Banking being launched in the country.

“We want to get rich but as well can’t annoy God by doing what is central to our faith. On behalf of other Muslims, I request you to guide us on how we shall also benefit from the government,” Namyalo said.

The President in response to her please however noted that other programmes like Entandikwa, NAADS, Operation Wealth Creation, and Emyooga all had no interest (Riba) like the Parish Development Model (PDM), hence why he intends to meet the Muslim cleric after Easter for a deeper discussion on the matter.

“I am going to meet your Sheikhs because I don’t want to do something and tomorrow the Catholics, Protestants or other faiths also come saying that I am not fair,” he said.

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The newly launched Salaam Bank Uganda Limited, a subsidiary of Djibouti-based Salaam Group intends to offer Islamic banking services following the ShariaLaw, which among others allows borrowers to take non-interest loans.

The bank obtained its Islamic banking licence, the first-ever in Uganda in September 2023 after Uganda’s parliament passed the Islamic Banking legislation, which the President later signed into law.

Salaam Bank Uganda board chairman Ibrahim Abdirahman said Museveni’s enactment of the Income Tax Amendment Bill, 2023 which operationalised Islamic banking was timely.

“Islamic banking marks a significant milestone in Uganda’s journey towards economic empowerment and inclusive financial growth,” he noted.

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Djibouti who led the Djiboutian delegation to Uganda, Mr Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, extended warm greetings of the President of Djibouti, Mr Ismaïl Omar Guelleh to President Museveni.

The official launch of the bank was also attended to by various officials from both Salaam Bank Uganda and Djibouti, officials from the Ugandan and Djibouti Governments, and religious leaders among others.

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