On Mideast trip, IMF head Christine Lagarde speaks on power, possibilities of Islamic finance

The head of the International Monetary Fund says Islamic finance offers the possibility of extending banking services to many who are underserved in the Muslim world.

Christine Lagarde, the IMF's managing director, told an audience in Kuwait City that only a quarter of Muslim adults have access to a bank account.

Lagarde said on Wednesday that "Islamic finance has the potential to contribute to higher and more inclusive economic growth by increasing access of banking services to underserved populations."

Lagarde took no questions at the end of her speech.

In an interview published Tuesday with the Kuwaiti daily newspaper Al-Qabas, she said Kuwait should consider imposing taxes on commercial profits and address the massive subsidies the oil-rich tiny country offers its citizens in the wake of low global oil prices.