Photo: Ubud, Indonesia - March 08, 2016: Woman cooks meatball soup at a street stall in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia on March 08, 2016. All halal products, including F&B, pharma and cosmetics, will have to be labeled as such by the end of 2019 / Elena Ermakova / Shutterstock.com
JAKARTA - The Indonesian government's Religious Affairs Ministry's new halal certification body, the Halal Products Certification Agency (Badan Penyelenggara Jaminan Produk, BPJPH), will start operating in early 2017, Nur Syam, the ministry’s Secretary General told Salaam Gateway.
The new body will facilitate the administrative process of halal certification, which involves receiving all applications, collecting their fees, and issuing certificates, according to Nur Syam.
“We signed the ministerial decree for the new halal certification body in October, as mandated by Law No. 33/2014 on halal certification. But we still need other government decrees to validate it. Hopefully this will happen at the end of December so the new body can start operating next year,” he said.
The country’s sole halal certifier since 1998, the Indonesia Ulama Council’s Food and Drug Analysis Agency (LPPOM MUI), will continue in its role to pass fatawa and conduct the audit process, he added.
The audit and review of the products to be certified will be done by a Halal Audit Agency (Lembaga Pemeriksa Halal, LPH), which will have to seek MUI’s approval before certification can be issued.
Nur Syam said the role of the LPH will rest with LPPOM MUI but will also include other organizations such as universities and civil societies.
“MUI will still hold the authority to audit and issue halal fatawa, but we will also involve the broader society as the LPH so the process will be more efficient, transparent and fast,” he added.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs is preparing three funding avenues to make certification affordable for all small and medium-sized enterprises ahead of mandatory halal labeling by the end of 2019. These include funding from three specific channels: the state budget, big companies in the halal sector to subsidize SMEs applications, and social finance, such as zakat and sadaqat.
Fees will range from 430,000 Indonesian rupiah ($32) to 4.3 million rupiah, reported The Jakarta Post.
MUI has long been criticized for its lack of transparency, including how much it charges certifiers to obtain its recognition for access to the Indonesian markets. It has also been accused of accepting bribes. Regardless, it has gained widespread international recognition as Indonesia’s only halal certifier. It is recognized by more than 30 halal certification bodies from more than 20 countries, including 31 approved for (cattle) slaughtering, 32 for food processing, and 14 for flavors/flavoring, according to Ledia Hanifa, deputy chairman of Commission VIII of the House of Representatives, which overlooks Religious, Social and Women’s empowerment affairs.
Hanifa hopes governmental oversight will better assure other countries of Indonesia’s halal certification.
“Previously there was a case of the United Arab Emirates not recognizing our halal certification from MUI as they see MUI as a civil society organization,” she said.
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