Tue, 15 Sep 2009
From: The Jakarta Globe
By Teguh Prasetyo & Dian Arifahmi
Business associations reiterated their opposition to the bill on halal certification, saying that they would most likely challenge the constitutionality of the law if the House of Representatives passes it on Tuesday.

The bill, sponsored by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, is expected to be passed by lawmakers at a plenary session. It states that all packaged foodstuffs, beverages, medicines and cosmetics produced and sold in Indonesia must pass a halal certification test.

“There are already other laws that specifically regulate halal requirements, such as the [2009] Animal Husbandry Law, the 1999 Consumer Protection Law, the 1992 Health Law and the Food Law of 1966,” Hariyadi Sukamdani, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin)’s deputy chairman responsible for policy and taxation, said on Monday.

Hariyadi said that the food certification requirements of the bill would have a serious impact on the food and beverage sector, as well as pharmaceutical producers, as they would raise business costs. It would be better, he said, if halal labelling remained optional, as is the case at present.

“If the government makes halal labeling compulsory, then it will be a serious blow for business as the law will contribute to the high-cost economy and reduce the competitiveness of Indonesian products on the local and overseas markets,” he said.

“It already takes a long time to register food and beverages and other products such as drugs because businesses must wait for six months to have their products registered,” he said, adding that there were 1,096 companies producing 23,600 different products that would face certification requirements.

Franky Sibarani, the deputy chairman of the Indonesian Food and Beverages Association (Gapmi), along with other groups, said they would fight the new law in the courts if the House passed it.

“Certainly, the new halal labeling law will only mean we will suffer higher costs, as we are already struggling hard to achieve our revenue target of Rp 500 trillion [$50 billion] this year due to a slump in exports,” he said.

Groups lined up against the bill include the Baby Food Producers Association (APMB), Milk Processing Industry Association, (IPS), the Bread, Cookie and Instant Noodles Association (Arobim) and the Meat Processors Association (Nampa).



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