House to Strip Mandatory Halal Certification From Bill After Strong Protests

A bill
being deliberated by the House of Representatives looks set to be
stripped of contentious provisions that would have required halal
certification of consumer products by the Religious Affairs Ministry,
after strenuous protests by the business community and the Indonesian
Council of Ulema (MUI).

Speaking to the Jakarta Globe, Hilman
Rosyid, a member of Commission VIII on religious and social affairs and
deputy chairman of the special committee deliberating the bill, said
halal certification of consumer products would not be made compulsory.

will remain voluntary as it is under the present legislation,” he said.
He added that certification powers would remain with the MUI’s Food,
Drugs and Cosmetics Assessment Institute (LP-POM) and not be
transferred to the Religious Affairs Ministry, as the bill would have

The House committee and the Religious Affairs
Ministry planned to hold further talks on the bill with the business
community, Hilman said.

The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and
Industry (Kadin) had earlier voiced strong opposition to the bill,
which called for mandatory halal certification for all packaged foods,
beverages, medicines and cosmetics produced or sold in the country,
including imported goods.

Business leaders said this would raise their costs and slow import procedures.

to a senior Industry Ministry official who declined to be named, it had
been agreed at a pre-Idul Fitri meeting between the special committee
and the government that the existing rules on voluntary halal
certification, now provided for by presidential regulation, would
remain in effect.

“It seems that Kadin’s and the MUI’s
protests against the bill have changed the legislators’ minds and they
have decided to be guided by the existing system,” the official said.
“It becomes a very sensitive issue when a body like the MUI protests
that someone is stepping on its authority.”

The MUI has vehemently opposed the bill, as the LP-POM would be stripped off its halal certification powers.

to the developme nts, Hariyadi Sukamdani, Kadin’s deputy chairman for
fiscal policy, taxation and customs, said on Thursday that it had
always been Kadin’s position that there was no need for new halal
legislation because it was adequately addressed by the existing
presidential regulation.

“There is also legislation in place
that governs halal requirements,” he said. “It is too much to enact
more legislation regulating the same issue.”

If the bill is
not passed before Oct. 1, it would have to be brought before the new
House, which would likely significantly delay its passage.