In a decisive move to bolster its reputation as a global hub for halal products and services, the Malaysia Halal Industry Development Council has announced significant reforms to the application and renewal procedures for halal certificates. These changes, set to take effect early next year, promise a simplified and expedited process, with the approval or feedback period dramatically reduced to just 23 working days. This landmark decision was prompted by numerous complaints regarding the frustratingly protracted timelines involved in obtaining halal certificates, a delay that often spanned between nine months and a staggering two years.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, in a press conference following the Malaysia Halal Industry Development Council meeting, shed light on the reasoning behind this pivotal decision. “We aim to address the grievances of businesses that have long struggled with the slow certification process,” he explained. “We have recognized the need to streamline this vital aspect of our halal industry to ensure its continued growth and competitiveness.”
The implementation of this accelerated certification process will be a collaborative effort between the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) and the Halal Development Corporation Bhd (HDC). Deputy Prime Minister Zahid expressed confidence in their ability to work in tandem to successfully bring this initiative to fruition.
One significant bottleneck that has historically contributed to the protracted certification timelines is the difficulty faced by micro, small, and medium enterprises (PMKS) in meeting the stringent conditions set by the Jakim Halal Certification Division. Zahid acknowledged this issue, stating, “There is a problem with the applications submitted by PMKS; perhaps the conditions cannot be met, especially concerning the modification or upgrading of premises for product production. It may be quite expensive, but we are committed to coordinating solutions for the challenges faced by these enterprises.”
To initiate this transformative change, Deputy Prime Minister Zahid disclosed plans to roll out a new halal certificate application process through a “proof of concept” (POC) initiative, involving five hotels located in key areas such as Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, and Labuan. This pilot program aims to evaluate the efficiency of the new process. Zahid asserted, “We will implement the POC within the next two months. After that, we will officially adopt the 23 working days as the new benchmark for halal certification issuance.”
Beyond the domestic front, Zahid emphasized the importance of strengthening halal diplomacy to promote Malaysian halal products and services internationally. “We must transcend the confines of our domestic market for halal products,” he stressed. “The Foreign Ministry and MITI (Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Industry) have devised plans for collaborative halal diplomacy efforts, which will encompass official visits, working visits by various ministries, and active involvement from the Prime Minister and other government officials.”
In a proactive move to underscore its commitment to halal diplomacy, Zahid revealed that Malaysia has entered into at least three international agreements featuring halal elements. The relevant agencies, particularly the Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation, HDC, and Jakim, are poised to spearhead these diplomatic initiatives. With these concerted efforts, Malaysia seeks to not only streamline its halal certification processes but also elevate its presence on the global stage as a leading proponent of halal products and services.