Pakistan: Govt brings bill to promote halal food trade

The government introduced a bill in the National Assembly on Thursday to set up an authority 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 Pakistan Halal Authority Bill envisions the establishment of an Islamabad-based authority, with a high-powered board of governors, headed by the minister for science and technology, to develop and implement policies and programmes for the promotion of both international and domestic trade in halal products permissible by the laws of Islam.

The Punjab government already has a Halal Development Agency, but the new federal law will apply to 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”.

A statement of objects and reasons from Science and Technology Minister Rana Tanveer Hussain, accompanying the bill, estimated the existence of “a huge international market of halal business worth trillions of dollars”, bulk of which, he said, was taken away by non-Muslim countries.

Noting that the scope of halal sector covers a wide range of items such as food, pharmaceuticals, health, food supplements and toiletries, the statement said: “Pakistan, being a Muslim country, is taking only a nominal share of this huge export potential due to non-existence of a legal and recognised entity/authority at the national level dealing with the halal sector.”

The proposed Pakistan Halal Authority will be tasked to recommend “halal standards for government-notified articles and processes for adoption by a National Standards Body in accordance with comprehensive guidelines of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), provide for certification of halal products and authorise a halal logo”.

Contravention of the new law will be punishable with imprisonment of up to six months, or with the fine of up to Rs500,000, but not less than Rs50,000, or with both.

The OIC guidelines, developed by what is described in the document as a Standardisation Expert Group, devote a substantial portion to defining halal and non-halal animals and manual or mechanical slaughtering of halal animals by an adult Muslim.

*This article was originally published on Dawn on 31 July 2015. Read the original article here.

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