Govt takes over halal label
BPJPH aims to improve halal certification process Govt yet to decide on halal label fees
It’s official: The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has given up its authority to issue halal certification, nearly three decades after the clerical body was given the authority by then president Soeharto following mass hysteria over the circulation of lard.
The Religious Affairs Ministry has finally established the Halal Products Certification Agency (BPJPH) as the sole halal certification body in the country.
The new agency, which was officiated on Wednesday, is mandated by the 2014 halal certification law to regulate procedures and applications for halal certification, as well as collecting the fees for issuing certificates.
“BPJPH has the authority to issue, revoke and manage all administration related to halal certification of domestic and imported products, while the MUI still holds the authority to issue halal edicts,” BPJPH head Soekoso told
The Jakarta Post on Friday. The MUI, he added, still held the authority to certify halal auditors and accreditation for the Halal Audit Agency (LPH) that could be carried out by universities or civil society organizations, as mandated by the law.
The BPJPH is expected to improve the halal certification process, that under the MUI was considered as lacking transparency and accountability, and once marred by bribery allegations.
The agency is now working to create an online registration system for requesting halal-certification, expected to finish in early 2018, Soekoso said.
Applicants who want to obtain halal certification for their products must register at the agency. The applicant can choose an LPH, who would audit the process of production of the specified products. The existing LPH is currently the MUI’s Food and Drug Anal- ysis Agency.
The LPH auditor would then hand over the report to the BPJPH, that would later submit the audited report to the MUI for the latter to issue edicts on whether the products are worthy of being certified halal or not. The BPJPH will issue a halal certificate for the product within seven days after of the MUI’s edict.
If applicants’ documents are in line with the requirements, the whole process would take less than 60 days, Soekoso said.
Meanwhile, the fees for halalcertification were still being deliberated on by the Finance Ministry and the details of the fees will be defined in the ministerial regulation, expected to be issued by the end of October.
“The fees will automatically be directed to the Finance Ministry as non-tax revenues. The payment is made through appointed banks that are integrated through an online system,” Sukoso said, adding the system was set up to prevent illegal practices such as bribery.
The MUI has held the sole power to issue certification for halal products since 1989, including the authority to set halal standards, auditing products, issuing edicts and collecting the fees from applicants.
Some lawmakers have called for an audit of MUI’s financial reports regarding the halal-certification fees in the past, suspecting the outfit had amassed a substantial amount of revenue from the process. However, this was difficult due to MUI’s status as a privately run religious organization.
MUI deputy chairman Zainut Tauhid Sa’adi said the outfit supported the BPJPH as the MUI expected the government agency would push more products to be certified as halal, and make Indonesia one of the biggest halal product producers in the world. On the LPPOM website, fees for a halal certificate range from Rp 1 million (US$74) for small and medium enterprises up to Rp 3.5 million, excluding the fees for audit, registration and training. The certificate is valid for two years and should be renewed before expiry.
Under the 2014 Law, however, halal certificates issued under the BPJPH are valid for four years, unless the products change their composition.
LPPOM deputy chairman Oesmena Gunawan said the issuance of halal certificates usually took less than one month to three months, depending on whether the applicants had correctly submitted the documents and requirements to request halal certification.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Food and Beverage Association (Gapmmi) chairman Adhi S. Lukman said the government-owned halal certification agency could strengthen the bargaining position of Indonesian halal certification on the world stage compared to when the certificates were issued by MUI.
However, he noted the BPJPH faced challenges especially since Article 4 of the 2014 Law mandated that all products distributed in Indonesia should be halal-certified.
The BPJPH should be able to issue halal certification for at least 6,000 large and medium enterprises, as well as 1.5 million small food enterprises, but at the same time it still depended on MUI’s edict to issue halal certificates.