Wakaf law to be tabled by year-end

By SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

The government is expected to table the proposed Wakaf Act in the Parliament by year-end to better manage endowment funds in the country, according to Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs) Fuziah Salleh (picture).

She said the enactment will regulate the varied implementation on managing wakaf assets in each state as they are being individually managed by the state government, as well as addressing the particular role of the state and federal governments.

“The Act aims to better manage the endowment funds. In regard to how we manage the funds all the while, there is no clear guidelines at the federal level as all states have their own enactment.

“That is why we are facing difficulties in implementing wakaf activities, for example in collecting and channelling the funds, as well as in ensuring the integrity of the funds,” she said at the Sixth International Conference on Islamic Wealth Management and Financial Planning in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

In addition, Fuziah said the government is mulling to introduce tax reduction for wakaf contributors to stimulate wakaf assets in the country.

“We are looking at introducing tax rebate for wakaf. At the moment, we are looking at various technicalities to implement it, whether to enact a new law or amend an existing one.

“Currently, there is tax rebate for zakat but none for wakaf. This is something that has not been explored,” she said, adding that the department will announce the decisions by the end of the year.

Fuziah said the department is in talks with other ministries and stakeholders to present the draft of the enactment on wakaf, as well as the new tax rebate for wakaf contributors.

“The drafts for Wakaf Act and tax rebate are ready…we are seeking feedback from stakeholders and other ministries, particularly the Ministry of Finance, on the tax rebate proposal.

“We also have to discuss with state governments on centralising the wakaf-related activities. We hope to get it done by year-end,” she said.

Meanwhile, Fuziah said the department aims to lift between 2% and 4% of asnaf (underprivileged) group out of poverty this year.

“Prior to this, there was an initiative under the Yayasan Pembangunan Ekonomi Islam Malaysia that looked into the social economic development of Muslims. However, it needs to be empowered further with more depth in various instruments.

“This is because the instruments that we used to assist asnaf have zero effect in taking them out of the poverty.

“As such, the department is looking at developing a master plan that will look into the social economy of this group,” she added.