All posts related to KL Conference on Islamic Wealth Management & Financial Planning 2018 - KLC-IWM-2018

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Gradual Approach in Prohibiting Riba (P. I)

Among the proofs of the realistic approach of shari`ah is gradation in legislation. In the previous two articles of this series, I studied the gradual approach of shari`ah in prohibiting intoxicants and the abolishment of slavery that prevailed the whole world even before the advent of Islam. It was evidenced that it was not Islam who brought slavery into this world as unfairly alleged by some biased Orientalists as well as Westerners.
Here, I would study the case of the prohibition of riba(usury or interest) as a third example of gradation in legislation.

Meaning of Riba

Lexically, the word riba means excess, increase, augmentation, expansion or growth.
Mawdudi defines riba as “a predetermined excess or surplus over and above the loan received by the creditor conditionally in relation to a specified period.”[1]

On the exact meaning as well as relation between riba and interest, Kahf states,

Riba is defined with regard to financial transactions as any contractual increment in a loan or debt due to the time element. This is exactly what we know today as interest. Both legally and financially, interest is defined as an increment paid by the debtor to the creditor for granting a loan or for extending the maturity of an existing debt.[2]

Types of Riba
There are two distinguishable types of riba[3]
1. Riba al-nasi’ah: It occurs when the specified increase is in return for the delay of, or waiting for, the payment.
2. Riba al-fadl: It occurs when the increase is mentioned irrespective of the postponement and is not offset by something in return.
Islamic Ruling on Riba
As far as Islamic shari`ah is concerned, riba is condemned and prohibited in the strongest possible terms. This prohibition cannot be questioned or undermined in any way.

Allah Almighty says in the Ever-Glorious Qur’an,
{… whereas Allah permits trading and forbids usury (riba)}. (Al-Baqarah 2:275) ,
{Allah has blighted usury …}. (Al-Baqarah 2: 276) and,
{O you who believe! Observe your duty to Allah, and give up what remains (due to you) from usury, if you are (in truth) believers. And if you do not, then be warned of war (against you) from Allah and His messenger.}. (Al-Baqarah 2: 278-9)
Kahf comments on the last verse as saying, “No other sin is prohibited in the Qur’an with a notice of war from Allah and His Messenger!”[4] Surely, this shows how grave the sin of getting involved in usurious transactions is in the sight of Allah and His Messenger.
Ibn `Abbas said that, “{Then be warned of war (against you)} means, ‘Be sure of a war from Allah and His Messenger.’ He also said, “On the Day of Resurrection, those who eat riba will be told, ‘take up arms for war.’ He then recited, {And if you do not, then be warned of war (against you) from Allah and His messenger.}. (Al-Baqarah 2: 279)”[5]
In the same vein, the Prophet’s Sunnah is abundant in hadiths that declare riba as unlawful as well as abhorred. To cite a few:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The wrath of Allah is on the taker of riba, its giver, its writer, and its two witnesses.”[6]
On the day of Fat-h Makkah (i.e., the opening of Makkah) the Prophet said, “All forms of riba during the time of jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic period of ignorance) is annulled and under my feet, and the first riba I annul is the riba of al-`Abbas (the Prophet’s uncle).”[7]
Ibn Majah reported that abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Riba is seventy types, the least of which is equal to one having sexual intercourse with his mother.”[8]

Ibn Mas`ud narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “May Allah curse whoever consumes riba, whoever pays riba, the two who are witnesses to it, and the scribe who records it.”[9]
It is also worthy of note that the wisdom behind the prohibition of riba is the elimination of injustice and the call for human brotherhood and cooperation. This will be clearly shown throughout the following lines.

Catastrophic Effects of Riba
No one can deny the atrocities and catastrophes riba has brought to humanity both in the past and at present. The latest global financial crisis is a good example on this as attested to by financial specialists and economists from different backgrounds. Some Western as well as other countries still feel the pressure of that crisis from which their economies have not yet fully recovered.
To use Daryabadi’s eloquent words, “The devastating propensities of usury are visible to every eye. The evils attendant on it are neither few nor far between – the callousness it engenders, the profligacy it lets loose, the greed it encourages, the jealousy it breeds, the misery it entails, the abjectness it inculcates, and so on.”[10]Part of the wisdom behind the prohibition of riba – as hinted to earlier – is to fight all these injustices and more.
Moreover, “In the language of modern socialism, interest is an unjustifiable tax on the laboring classes, the unpaid wage of the laborer.” Accordingly, those who have abundance lend money and that money returns to them to increase that abundance, the increase being the unpaid dues of labor, which are the only source of legitimate wealth – “the rich are thus made richer and the poor poorer, by every fresh act of taking interest, and the stability of the social organism is thus disturbed.”[11]
Therefore, Islam clearly and decisively declares riba as unlawful, absolutely and unconditionally.
Let us take a look at the ancient civilizations to see their stand on riba. Greece and Rome both groaned heavily under riba’s yoke, but none of their legislators, like the economists of modern Europe, thought of banning it altogether. In Greece, ‘the bulk of the population became gradually indebted to the rich to such an extent that they were practically slaves’, and ‘usury had given all the power of the state to a small plutocracy.’ The Romans were nothing but worse than the Greek. ‘The attempt to regulate the rate of interest utterly failed. In the course of two or three centuries the small free farmers were utterly destroyed. By the pressure of war and taxes they were all driven into debt, and debt ended practically, if not technically, in slavery.’[12]

Daryabadi further continues,
With all these horrors experienced and patiently borne, nobody ventured to eradicate the evil root and branch. The utmost that a Solon[13] among the ancients or a Bacon[14] among the moderns could advise to ‘grind the tooth of usury, that it bite not too much, that is to say, to regulate its rate, without attaching the slightest moral taint to the usurer’.
The Bible went no doubt many steps further inasmuch as it forbade the advance of usurious loans to the Israelites (Ex. 22: 25: DT. 23: 19). But even the Biblical prohibition did not include usurious loans to non-Israelites. It is the Ever-Glorious Qur’an which, to its everlasting glory, has categorically forbidden usury in all its forms.[15]
Even the people of jahiliyyah understood the fact that Allah is Good and does not accept but what is good and thus upon rebuilding the Ka`bah before Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent as Prophet, one of them, namely Abu Wahb ibn `Amr said,
“O Quraysh! Do not let into this building anything but lawful gains; so no harlotry,riba, nor unjust practices [should be included].”[16]
Notes:

[1] Mawdudi, Abul A`la. Interest, Vol. 1, p. 33.
[2] Kahf, Monzer. Objectives of Shari`ah in the Prohibition of Riba: Implications for Modern Islamic Finance. Published by www.onislam.net
[3] Ali, Engku. Riba and Its Prohibition in Islam, ISUM; They can be translated into English as, “Delay usury” and “Excess usury,” respectively as mentioned in Rawwas, Muhammad & Sidiq, Hamid (n.d.). Mu`jam Lughat al-Fuqahaa’' (Lexicon of the Language of Jurists). First Edition. Dar An-Nafa'is, Beirut, Lebanon.
[4] Kahf, Objectives of Shari`ah in the Prohibition of Riba.
[5] At-Tabari, M. Ibn Jarir. Tafsir At-Tabari. Dar Al-Ma`arif, Egypt.
[6] Al Albani. Al-Jami` Al-Sahih, Hadith No. 5089.
[7] Sahih Muslim.
[8] Sunan Ibn Majah.
[9] Sahih Al-Bukhari.
[10] Daryabadi, Abdul Majid. The Glorious Qur’an: Text, Translation & Commentary. The Islamic Foundation, 2002, UK.
[11] Ibid.
[12] The Encyclopedia Britannica. XXVII. p. 812, 11th Ed.; as quoted in Daryabadi.
[13] Solon (638?-559? B.C.), Athenian lawgiver and poet. His reforms preserved a class system based on wealth but ended privilege by birth.
[14] Bacon, Francis (1561-1626), English philosopher, essayist, courtier, jurist, and statesman.
[15] Adapted from Daryabadi.
[16] Sirat Ibn Hisham (Biography of the Prophet). Abridged by Abdus-Salam Harun. Al-Falah Foundation for Translation, Publication & Distribution. Egypt, 2000. P. 29.
(On Islam / 28 Jan 2014)
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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Qatar: Call to make Zakat mandatory for commercial sector

If the payment of Zakat (obligatory alms giving in Islam) is made mandatory by law even on commercial entities in Qatar, the expected annual revenue would be to the tune of QR4bn, which is enough to support all the needy inside the country and many in other countries as well, a senior official has said.

Dr Mohamed Khalifa al-Kubaisi, director of Zakat services at the Zakat Fund, speaking at the Central Municipal Council (CMC) session yesterday, said that the Fund, unlike other charities, focussed on the needy inside Qatar, whether locals or expatriates. It is also a government entity which has limitations on publishing its activities.

“Currently the Fund supports 17,000 needy families. The number is expected to increase as the revenue of the Fund goes up due to the rapid increase in the country’s population. This puts great responsibilities and challenges on the Fund,” he pointed out.

Dr al-Kubaisi explained that the revenues of the Fund from donations and Zakat are spent 100% on charitable works and reach the needy in full without any deduction for the operational cost of the Fund such as salaries of the employees and other administrative issues as these are normally covered by the government.

He stressed that there are no really poor people among the locals, but those in need are usually who accumulated huge debts and could not pay back. He called for awareness efforts to persuade such people not to live beyond their means. As for the expatriates, there are still some needy families that need regular support.

“We calculate it like this: We divide the total income of the family members. We have standards for Qataris and expatriates. If the allowance of a Qatari family member falls beyond QR2,000-2,500 a month then the family is in need of a financial support from the Fund. For expatriates the allowance of a person in the family should come short of QR1,000-1,500 a month to be eligible for support.”

Dr al-Kubaisi said the Fund works in a way to spare the needy people any embarrassment. “They have to visit one time only the headquarters of the Fund to submit a request and register their information. They can call by phone and the staff of the Fund will reach out to them. A study of the case will ensue, when confirmed that the family is really needy, a monthly sum would be credited to their bank accounts on a regular basis for the duration of the aid as if it was a salary transfer.”

Dr al-Kubaisi urged yesterday CMC members to join its volunteers and ambassadors programme to promote the practice of Zakat giving in their constituencies and simultaneously help the Fund reach out to the needy.

“You know better your constituencies and we need your help in this respect. We have also engaged other influential people in this programme such as journalists, writers, artists, government officials and expatriate community heads,” he said.

Eventually, the move was highly welcomed by all CMC members, who saw a real need to focus efforts to address the local needs.

(Gulf Times / 22 Jan 2014)
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UAE bank and Al-Dhafra sign Islamic finance facilities deal


Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), has granted a AED450 million Islamic finance facilities to Al-Dhafra Cooperative Society to fund working capital and capital expenditure.

The agreement was signed at ADIB’s head office by ADIB CEO Tirad Al-Mahmoud and Mohammed Khalifa Al-Hamli, chairman of Al-Dhafra Cooperative Society, in the presence of Mohammed Al-Fahim, head of government and public sector, and Al-Dhafra CEO Saif Al-Hamli.

Al-Mahmoud said: “Through this financing facility ADIB is supporting the economy and the interests of UAE nationals in the Western Region. This is in line with the vision of the Abu Dhabi government, which has reiterated its commitment to the Western Region by announcing major investments and projects worth over AED40 billion.

ADIB’s financial strength has allowed the bank to grow our UAE-based financing portfolio over the last couple of years and we intend to accelerate this growth in 2014.”

The financing facility will help Al-Dhafra Cooperative Society implement a number of important projects to boost economic and social development, in line with the Abu Dhabi government’s Western Region 2030 Strategy.

Al-Hamli said: “We value our partnership with ADIB, which is helping Al-Dhafra Cooperative Society to implement the economic development strategy of the Western Region Development Council.

He added: “The choice of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank to finance the activities of Al-Dhafra cooperative society is a testament to the strength the bank has demonstrated in supporting government institutions and the expansion that Al-Dhafra is looking to achieve in the Western Region.



(Arab News / 29 Jan 2014)
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Malaysia Taxes Spur Indonesian Oil-Palm Sukuk

Bumitama Agri is joining Indonesian oil-palm planters selling sukuk in Malaysia to take advantage of the nation’s tax breaks and to tap its record Shariah-compliant banking assets.
The company set up a 2 billion ringgit ($599 million), 15- year Islamic bond program for investment and refinancing, according to a Jan. 21 stock exchange filing.
Singapore-listed Golden Agri-Resources, which has operations in Indonesia, was the last producer of the commodity to sell ringgit-denominated sukuk in July, paying a coupon rate of 4.75 percent for 2018 securities.
They yielded 4.91 percent on Jan. 24. Malaysia, whose Shariah-compliant banking assets more than doubled in the past five years to 543 billion ringgit, provides tax incentives for agricultural bonds as part of an effort to reinforce its position as a global Islamic hub.
Corporate issuance of sukuk in Indonesia rose almost 18 percent in 2013 to 2.2 trillion rupiah ($179 million), trailing the $14 billion in Malaysia, data compiled by Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority and Bloomberg show.
“We’re getting a fair bit of enquiries from Southeast Asian plantation firms,” Mohd Effendi Abdullah, head of Islamic markets at Kuala Lumpur-based AmInvestment Bank, the nation’s third-biggest Shariah-compliant debt arranger in 2013, said in a phone interview yesterday. “Islamic bonds are ideal for such companies because they can use the assets and the agricultural income to back the offering.”
Tax deduction
To encourage the issuance of agricultural-based sukuk, Prime Minister Najib Razak said in his September budget speech that taxes on expenses and stamp duties on such debt would be waived for four years through 2015. The securities pay returns on assets to comply with the Koran’s ban on interest.
Indonesia’s First Resources has also tapped the nation’s Islamic investors. The Singapore-based palm-oil firm sold 600 million ringgit of five-year securities in July 2012 at a coupon rate of 4.45 percent and they were paying 4.39 percent yesterday, Bursa Malaysia data show.
Golden Agri, the world’s second-biggest planter of the commodity after Malaysia’s Sime Darby Bhd., issued its first sukuk in November 2012.
The 1.5 billion ringgit of five-year notes paid a coupon of 4.35 percent and were yielding 4.85 percent on Jan. 24. Both securities are rated AA2 by RAM Rating Services, the third-highest investment grade.
Yields on AA-rated corporate debt sold in Malaysia climbed four basis points, or 0.04 percentage point, in 2014 to 4.45 percent as of Jan. 21, the highest level since June 2012, according to a central bank index.
‘Naturally compatible’
“Plantations and most other cash-crop commodities businesses are naturally compatible with Shariah-compliant financing structures,” Alhami Mohd Abdan, Kuala Lumpur-based head of international finance and capital markets at OCBC Al- Amin Bank said in an e-mail interview yesterday. “The sukuk market, and particularly the investor base in Malaysia, is very familiar and comfortable with” such issuance, he said.
Bumitama is tapping the market just as global borrowing costs are climbing amid stimulus tapering by the Federal Reserve.
Emerging-market sovereign bond yields advanced 15 basis points this year to 6.25 percent, the highest level since Sept. 13 and above the 2013 average of 5.47 percent, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s EMBI Global Index.
The Bloomberg-AIBIM Bursa Malaysia Corporate Sukuk Index, which tracks the most-traded local-currency notes issued in the world’s biggest market for the debt, fell 1 percent this year to 104.120 after gaining 2.8 percent in 2013.
Bumitama’s bonds are rated AA3 by RAM Ratings, one level lower than those of Golden Agri and First Resources.
The issuance will be the company’s first and adds to a 5.5 trillion rupiah outstanding loan that comes due in 2018, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Market Depth Offerings of ringgit-denominated Islamic debt total 2.1 billion ringgit this year, compared with 181 million ringgit in the year-earlier period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Other Southeast Asian oil-palm growers have also turned to Malaysia for funding via the sukuk market. Noble Group Ltd., which is listed on Singapore’s stock exchange, issued 300 million ringgit at a coupon rate of 4.3 percent in January 2013.
The three-year securities yielded 4.61 percent when last traded on Jan. 22, Bursa Malaysia data shows.
Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd. sold 1 billion ringgit of 10-year notes in 2012 at 4 percent and they were paying 4.7 percent on Jan. 27. Islamic bonds aren’t actively traded because investors tend to hold them until maturity due to their relative scarcity compared with conventional bonds.
“For sukuk, Malaysia is one of the better places as we have the infrastructure in place, while market depth and liquidity aren’t an issue,” Lam Chee Mun, a Kuala Lumpur-based fund manager at TA Investment Management overseeing 680 million ringgit, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “If you think you want international investor participation, especially Islamic funds, you’d have to think of Islamic rather than conventional financing.
(Jakarta Globe / 28 Jan 2014)
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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Buoyant Islamic banking market

Rising demands for Shariah-compliant financial services are widely seen to have steered the swift expansion of Islamic banking in recent years.
The future growth of this particular segment of the banking industry is, however, expected to be driven by the government’s plans to use Islamic financial instruments like Sukuk for financing the bulk of large infrastructure projects.
Islamic banking in Pakistan has grown rather quickly in the last five years, at an average annual rate of 30 per cent. Its share in the total banking industry has jumped from a little more than four per cent in 2007 to 9.5 per cent by the end of the third quarter of 2013, with five specialised banks exclusively providing Shariah-compliant services and 14 conventional banks running these operations through their dedicated branches and windows.
This segment of banking is projected to double in size and its share is expected rise to 20 per cent of the total banking industry in the next five years.
“The finance minister has repeatedly expressed his intention to issue Sukuk — an Islamic debt instrument — to fund mega development projects. This has buoyed the Islamic banking market,” notes Dr Shahid Zia, a Lahore-based financial analyst.
Nevertheless, he feels that the sentiment could reverse unless the government implements its plans. “The use of Islamic financial solutions for large public sector infrastructure projects can provide the kind of impetus the Islamic banking industry requires to tap its true potential.”
With the eight-month-old government focusing on the development of Islamic finance, rival banks are bracing themselves to grab a bigger market share. MCB Bank, for example, is already in the process of setting up a wholly-owned Islamic banking subsidiary by June-July.
Summit Bank will convert its entire core conventional banking operations into Islamic banking in three years. Bank Alfalah is also reported to be considering the option of following MCB Bank.
Pakistan was 8th among 20 Islamic finance countries ranked in 2012 according to their ‘involvement and leadership role played in the global Islamic financial services industry’.
“There is a huge untapped potential of Islamic banking in the country,” said Syed Rashid Rahman, MCB Bank’s Group Head of Islamic Banking.
“It is growing at a very fast pace. We expect our Islamic banking subsidiary to grow an asset base of Rs200 billion [from the existing Rs14.4 billion] in five years, and plan to add 25-30 branches annually to our network for the next several years. Most branches will be opened beyond major cities like Karachi and Lahore, in places where demand for Islamic finance is much stronger,” said Rahman, who has a 14-year experience in Islamic banking.
MCB Bank was the first conventional bank to start Shariah-compliant banking in 2003, and will also be the first to have a full-fledged Islamic banking subsidiary.
Though Islamic banking is expanding, no specialised bank, apart from Meezan Bank — the largest player in the industry with deposits of Rs268 billion — is making money. Most of them also remain under-capitalised.
“These banks are under-capitalised because of poor economic conditions for investment prevailing in the country for the last 5-6 years,” a senior branch manager of Meezan Bank said.
Banking sector analysts like Bilal Qamar, nevertheless, feel that Islamic banks may not be making money at present, but trends suggest that they will become profitable in a few years as this segment grows and expands.
He also suspects that conventional banks may now be expanding into Islamic banking to avoid the central bank’s requirement on minimum deposit rate. “It could be one factor that is driving growth in Islamic banking, because there’s no such restriction in Islamic mode.”
MCB Bank’s Rahman said there has been renewed interest in the revival of Islamic banking industry, and concerted efforts are being made by the regulator and the government to help it expand in size.
“Islamic banking has the potential and financing solutions to meet the needs of all kinds of customers, ranging from small businesses to mega projects, both in the private and public sector. The banks can do syndicate financing of mega infrastructure projects and provide tailor-made solutions to borrowers according to their business requirements,” he said.
Dr Shahid thinks that Islamic finance can also help reduce speculation in the economy, increase financial inclusion, cut poverty, create jobs and curb inflation. But, he says, specialised Islamic banks as well as conventional banks engaged in Shariah-compliant banking need to re-invent their operations before they can attract a larger chunk of depositors, and to deploy their assets in a profitable manner.
“At present, one finds little distinction between the way conventional and Islamic banking is done in the country. Most people feel that Islamic banks haven’t completely done away with riba [interest], and only labeled their conventional products as Islamic,” he says.
“Hence, they are skeptical of using the services being provided to them in the name of Islamic finance. The desired growth in Islamic banking will remain elusive unless the users are convinced that they are getting what they want and what they are told.
(Dawa.Com / 27 Jan 2014)
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Malaysia: Labuan IBFC allocates US$1m to promote Islamic wealth management

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 28, 2014): The Labuan International Business and Financial Centre (Labuan IBFC), which aims to continue attracting high net worth individual in Malaysia and South East Asia, has allocated US$1 million (RM3.3 million) to promote Islamic wealth management, said its CEO Saiful Bahari Baharom.
"I see good demand in the market. It is gaining momentum, but it really depends on the growth of the economy. Muslim high net worth individuals want to have Syariah solutions," Saiful told reporters after a memorandum of understanding between Labuan IBFC and the Global University of Islamic Finance (INCEIF) here yesterday.
Saiful Bahari hopes that the collaboration with INCEIF will help raise awareness on Islamic wealth management globally particularly through industry-driven research.
He said the partnership will benefit both Labuan IBFC and INCEIF in terms of pooling their resources to conduct more research into understanding Syariah issues in wealth management.
"We hope to feature the findings from this research into an annual journal focusing on wealth management. At the moment, there is no journal point of reference for Islamic wealth management," he said.
Saiful Bahari said the research topics proposed will cover key components of Islamic wealth management, including Syariah-compliant wealth acquisition, risk management, Islamic wealth preservation and wealth distribution.
At the moment, he said there is no industry wide knowledge of Islamic wealth management and there is a need for experts in this area.
He said Labuan IBFC expects the number of foundations to grow by 100 this year compared to over 100 in 2013.
According to him, Labuan IBFC offers a wide range of wealth management tools suitable for high net worth individuals, family offices and other wealth managers needing a range of structures offering efficient wealth transfer, dynastic planning and inheritance management.
Under the 2010 law, he said Labuan is now one of the few common law jurisdictions offering investors a choice of common law trusts and civil law foundations, propelling the jurisdiction to the forefront of international wealth planning.
(The Sun Daily / 28 Jan 2014)
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Friday, 24 January 2014

Zakat payment by firms almost doubles in 2013

The number of companies that has paid their annual Zakat (obligatory Islamic alms ) to the Zakat Fund has almost doubled in 2013, compared to the 2012 figures.

Dr Mohamed bin Khalifa al-Kubaisi, head of Zakat services section at the Zakat Fund, said yesterday that the number of companies that contributed the Zakat was 57 in 2012 and the number has jumped to 103 in 2013 when the Fund launched its free service for calculating the Zakat due on companies.     

The Fund honoured companies that paid huge amounts of Zakat at a programme yesterday. These were approved as Zakat giving companies and some others were also thanked for facilitating the collection of Zakat and promoting its importance among the local community.

Dr al-Kubaisi stressed the need to promote the practice of Zakat in all segments of the society. He also said that there was a proposal to ask ministries to deduct one, two or three days wages from the annual salaries of willing employees and the same forwarded to the Zakat Fund.

He said that it is still an idea under study and it would be perfectly a voluntary process with no obligations whatever.

(Gulf Times / 23 Jan 2014)
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