Poor bloody infantry
To use Government buildings - and now military assets - to boost Islamic financing, is wrong in principle, just as the "Islamic" loan is wrong in principal. From The Spectator:
Prince Harry's Afghan adventure served multiple purposes by buffing up his media image while keeping him out of his usual forms of trouble for ten whole weeks, and drawing attention to the demands made on front-line troops and the shortcomings of their kit and conditions. The story stands in bizarre contrast to another news item, concerning the fate of Chelsea barracks. This 13-acre complex of dismal 1960s blocks between Sloane Square and the Thames was maintained for many years on such mean MoD budgets that in civilian life it would have been condemned as a slum.
A couple of years ago a decision was made to sell it off and move its occupants to Woolwich; its value was estimated at £250 million. Now a deal has been struck for vastly more than that, with the involvement of a truly iconic list of players. The barracks have been sold for £959 million (on pay-later terms, naturally) to the Candy brothers, the thirty-something wunderkinder of upmarket London property development, with the backing of a Qatari sovereign wealth fund, underwritten by Britain’s biggest-ever Islamic financing, which will follow Sharia law by avoiding the charging of interest. It’s also reported, excitingly, that the old barracks may be demolished by blowing them up for a film scene, and that Lord (Richard) Rogers is to be the architect of the 1,500 new homes that will spring up on the site by 2014.
But what about the poor bloody infantry? Much of the proceeds has been earmarked for the improvement of military accommodation elsewhere, we’re told vaguely, but Defence Minister Des Browne should do better than that: he should unequivocally pledge every penny of it, and issue a specific list of ways in which the windfall will be spent to improve soldiers’ lives at home and abroad.
My emphasis. This transaction, and others of its type, are the subject of my longer post on Islamic finance, in which I explain why the interest charge is avoided only in form, but not in substance.
Posted on 03/08/2008 7:32 AM by Mary Jackson