Pakistan Halal Food Authority remains only on paper for two years

ISLAMABAD: While the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) is in hot water for allegedly making appointments of high officials in violation of rules, the ministry has asked establishment division to urgently create posts of three director generals for the planned establishment of Pakistan Halal Food Authority (PHFA).

The ministry has also written letter to Ministry of Finance for sanctioning the required fund for the authority. The government had approved the establishment of PHFA in 2015 through a bill passed in the parliament. However, arrangements for the same could be made during the past two years for unknown reasons, reliable sources informed Pakistan Today.

Showing his displeasure over the lack of progress on the much-delayed authority, Ministry of Science and Technology Rana Tanveer Hussain, during recent meeting asked officials of the ministry to speed up the process. Minister also directed the senior officials of the Ministry, to expedite their efforts to fulfill all pre-requisites including hiring of staff and approval of Recruitment rules through Establishment Division, on priority basis. Federal Secretary MoST Mrs. Yasmin Masood, Acting DG PHA, and other senior officials of MoST were also present in the meeting.

According to the sources, it was also decided in the meeting that temporary offices of the PHFA would be set up in Islamabad and Karachi. A director general will head the authority while two acting director generals would assist him along with other officials and staff.

The ministry has also asked Finance Division to make arrangement for purchase of vehicles for the officials and staff to be recruited for PHFA.

However, an official at MoST claims that the establishment division and ministry of finance have been non-cooperative in the establishment of the authority. Besides, the PHFA, established under Ministry of Science and Technology, is not acceptable by many as they believe that it should either function under the Ministry of Commerce or the Ministry of Religious Affairs. The authority was aimed at regulating trade in food products strictly within what is permissible by Islamic laws. The authority was established, but unfortunately it became dysfunctional soon after.

The authority was to help Pakistan take a due share in what a minister put at trillions of dollars’ worth of world trade in Halal food and other products.

The Punjab government already has Punjab Halal Development Agency, but the new federal law will apply to the whole of Pakistan for what it called “purposes of imports and exports with foreign countries and inter-provincial trade and commerce in all such articles and processes which are described or represented as being Halal”.

According to a statement of the ministry the scope of Halal sector covers a wide range of items such as food, pharmaceuticals, health, food supplements and toiletries. Pakistan, being a Muslim country, is taking only a nominal share of this huge export potential due to non-existence of a legal and recognized entity/authority at the national level dealing with the Halal sector.

The proposed Pakistan Halal Food Authority is to recommend “Halal standards for government-notified articles and processes for adoption by a National Standards Body in accordance with comprehensive guidelines of Organization of Islamic Cooperation, provide for certification of Halal products and authorize a Halal logo.