PUTRAJAYA, Oct 3 — The Malaysia Halal Industry Development Council has decided that, starting early next year, the application and renewal procedures for halal certificates will be simplified, with the certificate approval or feedback period shortened to only 23 working days.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, said that the decision was made after receiving many complaints that the approval and issuance of halal certificates took too long —between nine months and two years.

In a press conference, after chairing the Malaysia Halal Industry Development Council meeting here today, Ahmad Zahid said that the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) and the Halal Development Corporation Bhd (HDC) will work closely together to ensure that the matter can be implemented.

He said that one of the factors which caused the halal certificate application period to take a long time was the constraints faced by applicants, especially from micro, small and medium enterprises (PMKS), in meeting the conditions set by the Jakim Halal Certification Division.

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“There is a problem with the application submitted by PMKS; perhaps the conditions cannot be met, especially in terms of modifying or upgrading premises for product production places. It may be quite expensive, but we will coordinate the problems faced,” he said.

As a start, Ahmad Zahid said that HDC and related parties will implement a new halal certificate application process, through “proof of concept” (POC), involving five hotel premises around Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan, to see how the process goes.

“Implement POC within two months; after two months we are going to start 23 working days as the new benchmark for Halal certification to be issued,” he said.

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Ahmad Zahid said that the meeting also agreed to strengthen Halal diplomacy, in collaboration with the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (Miti), to promote local halal products and services abroad.

“We have to get out of the cocoon of the domestic market of halal products. The Foreign Ministry and Miti have planned that halal diplomacy can be done jointly, in official visits and working visits of both ministries, with the prime minister and other ministers involved in the halal products or services.

“We have at least three agreements at the international level which have halal elements in them, and we will be proactive with all the agencies involved, especially the Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade), HDC and Jakim, to implement this halal diplomacy,” he said. — Bernama