Halal Certification is a matter of growing concern in Australia, with more people realizing the depth of the lucrative enforcement of religious values on the average consumer with every day products onn supermarket shelves. And so it should be; whether you are religious or not, you pay for it. You pay a percentage of each sale to one of the several halal certification authorities, who for decades have skated under the radar, not being held accountable for where these funds actually go.
Now that people are becoming more aware of this rapidly growing, large profit margin industry, more details are coming to light. The Australian newspaper source revealed in May this year;
“A NUMBER of the region’s top Muslim leaders signed a secret deal in Mecca last year to tie up more of the $1 trillion halal certification market. The meeting was called by a Saudi-born ultra-orthodox Wahhabi leader in a bid to set up a new umbrella organisation and investment fund to control the booming market. Abdallah Ben Abdel Mohsen al-Turki, “honorary president” of the World Muslim League, brought together a range of figures to conquer and divide the multimillion-dollar market.
Embattled Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president Hafez Kassem, Australia’s “Mr Saudi”, Shafiq Khan, hard line preacher Sheik Omar El-Banna, and Australia’s Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, were all present and all signed the document.
“The federation shall seek to set up an Islamic investment fund to invest in good-return projects, especially in the area of halal food of all kinds, as well as investing in the establishment of an Islamic abattoir,” states the agreement.
It was reportedly discussed that 70 per cent of the profits from the investment fund would be distributed among the various signatories and 30 per cent would go to the World Muslim League, which is funded by the Saudi regime.
The Grand Mufti signed the agreement representing his own centre, the Australian Islamic Culture Establishment, and not the Australian National Imams Council.
“The intention was that a bank account would be created, a kitty, and these people would be the custodians of the fund,” one man told The Australian.
“They worked out the distribution formula and some of that money would go to the league. Whether that goes to their Australian office (in Melbourne) or back to Saudi Arabia, we do not know.”
With the vague manner in which the large profits are distributed, it is time that the whole certification financial system be submitted to regulation and transparency. While removing and banning halal certification is a nice pipe dream for those who oppose it, the reality is that it is here to stay, for better or for worse.
Here are some thoughts on how this could be facilitated. As for anyone to think this cannot happen is not being realistic in the current world we live in. So on that note and in no particular order;
1) All certification schemes must be run by a government department and not tendered out to any publicly listed or even privately owned company to run and administer. Companies that have products where certification is required are subject to an annual fee of a minimum $1,000 to a maximum of $10,000.00, dependent on the amount of products that require certification.
2) All products that are subject to any form of certification must be clearly labelled so all consumers can make clear and concise choices when shopping.
3) Any products exported to nations requiring certification must only be paid for by those countries.
4) The administration fees for any certification for products must be publicly declared so consumers are aware of how much money they are spending towards this fee. This must be declared on an annual basis.
5) All revenue raised after administration costs must be made public and be reasonable i.e. no $100,000+ salaries for someone to manage this or ridiculous numbers of staff or staff salaries. These must be up for public scrutiny on an annual basis as to where this income and its profits are being spent within the broader Australian community.
6) Any religious entity will no longer be able to receive public funding from the government. Any income generated by religious entities must be disclosed and charged at company tax rates. The amount of public certification monies received by religious entities (including and not limited to private schools) is dependent on their annual income. Public schools to receive tax payer money as per normal on top of any funds distributed from the certification profits.
7) Profits from this scheme are to go towards helping the disadvantaged people in the community subject to means testing where financial assistance is required, community events etc, and programs that will aid and assist all members of the community i.e. providing shelter and food for Australia’s homeless people, community libraries and so on.
8) Products where certification is required must be limited to 1% rising to no more than 5% domestically. These products will reflect this in higher charges to consumers requiring each level of certification, i.e. beef that requires certification may be up to $1-$5 (not per kilo and subject to demand) more expensive than beef not requiring certification.
9) Only one company is to be subject to paying any certification fee. For example either the manufacturer of beef products is subjected to the certification fee, the transport company or the on seller of the final product is to note this is explicitly not for everyone company within the process to pay part of the certification fee if they were subject prior to this proposal.
10) An end to workplace discrimination where no employee is employed on religious grounds over any other potential employee. All manufacturers, delivery agents, sellers are to comply with national standards.
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