While financing the development of existing awqaf has been recognized in the proposedÂ regulatory framework as a crucial issue that must be addressed, the modalities of financing receiveÂ scant attention and remain to be explicitly addressed. The framework calls for the establishment ofÂ a National Waqf Development Corporation.Â According to the Sachar Committee, â€œIt appears to be essential to provide a technical advisoryÂ committee for development of Wakf properties both at the state and national levels. This bodyÂ may comprise representatives of the State Wakf Boards, area experts from institutions such asÂ School of Planning and Architecture, National Institute of Design and IITs and academics such asÂ sociologists, economists, financial and legal experts. A representative from appropriateÂ government department should also be part of this body.â€ It recommended further, â€œA NationalÂ Wakf Development Corporation may be constituted by the central government with a revolvingÂ corpus fund of Rs 500 crores. It would also be advisable to seek out matching funds to be added toÂ the corpus from the community and NGOs. The CMD of this corporation should be well versed inÂ Muslim religious practices and be proficient in Urdu (?). The corporation may continue providingÂ financial and technical help for development of Wakf properties with a view to enhance WakfÂ resources. Similar corporations should be established in all the states.â€
The proposed legislation endorses the Sachar Committee recommendation and states: â€œTheÂ Central Government shall establish, as soon as possible, a National WakfÂ Properties Development Board, for the development of the Wakf properties in the country. TheÂ Central Government shall, as soon as possible, establish a National Board for promotionÂ of education among Muslims and utilize the surplus funds of the Wakf institutions in theÂ Country generated through the development of Wakf properties. Provided that theÂ Central Government may frame rules for administration of these Boards as mayÂ be considered appropriate.â€ it also proposes that a National Wakf Development Corporation mayÂ be constituted by the Central Government with a revolving corpus fund of Rs.500 crores.â€
A major change that is proposed in the proposed legislation that can potentially encourage privateÂ financing of awqaf development is the extension of maximum lease period from three years toÂ thirty years, â€œprovided that may be specified in the rules to be made by the Central Government;Â provided further that a lease or sublease exceeding ten years and up to thirty years may be madeÂ for education and health and for specific period as may be provided by the rules to be made byÂ the Central Government; and provided that the Board shall immediately intimate the StateÂ Government regarding a lease or sub-lease for any period exceeding one year and exchange orÂ mortgage of any waqf property and thereafter it may become effective after the expiry of forty-fiveÂ days from the date on which the Board intimates the State Government.â€
The most recent proposals regarding the regulatory framework in the run-up to enactment areÂ contained in the Recommedations of the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha.Â (https://conference.ibfnet.ie/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/waqf-reco.pdf) These are well-consideredÂ recommendations. From the standpoint of financing, the relevant recommendation is theÂ requirement that the leases of waqf assets must be priced at market rates (also recommended byÂ earlier Joint Parliamentary Committee). The emphasis on the independence of the NationalÂ Agency for Waqf Development from the National Minorities Development & FinanceÂ Corporation makes enormous sense as well. However, neither the basis of proposed corpus ofÂ Rs500 crores, nor the modes of financing have been the subject of discussion. Given the state ofÂ current property markets in India, it is anybodyâ€™s guess how many properties can be taken up forÂ development at any time by the â€œrevolvingâ€ waqf fund. Let us hope we are not going to witness aÂ similar situation as the micro finance schemes of NMDFC where the size of loan has littleÂ relationship with the microenterprise to be funded and most certainly, little impact on the ground.
Mohammed Obaidullah | August 03, 2012