| Rokiah Mahmud |
THE Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) has been allocated a budget of $235.99 million for the financial year of 2017-2018, YB Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman, the Minister of Religious Affairs, announced during the 6th day of the 13th Legislative Council session yesterday.
The allocation is less than $13.74 million, compared to the $249.73 million that it received for the fiscal year of 2016-2017.
Despite the cuts, the minister said that MoRA and all the departments under it will optimise utilisation of the allocated budget by focusing on its five main programmes.
The second target will see strengthening of Dakwah, particularly in the mosque affairs section, for more efficient Islamic propagation methods and programmes.
The third target will focus on Syariah law empowerment, including the enforcement of procedures and regulations under the Syariah Penal Code Order 2013, which went into effect in April 2014.
The fourth target will be enhancement of religious edu-cation through religious and Arabic schools, the Institut Tahfiz Al-Quran Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah and the Religious Teachers University College of Seri Begawan (KUPU SB) to boost awareness of Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) principles amo-ng the younger generation.
The minister said that MoRA’s fifth target will be more efficient processing of Halal certification and labelling, in support of the country’s Halal industry.
During the budget deliberation, the minister disclosed a number of developments in several areas, including the success rate among Arabic school students in last year’s Religious Education Primary Schools Certificate (SSSRU), Brunei Reli-gious Education Certificate (SPUB), Brunei Religious Education of Higher Certificate (STPUB) and Primary School Assessment (PSR), which met the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) set by MoRA.
To invigorate Arabic Language, Al-Quran and religious education, the minister said that MoRA will focus its efforts on the implementation of various initiatives in schools, departments and ministries.
Among the initiatives will be an intensive language immersion programme in all Arabic schools, which the minister said should enable both the students and teachers to develop their fluency in the Arabic language.
At the same time, continuous efforts are being carried out to instil the culture of Al-Quran reading among students as early as seven years old, through pre-school religious classes.
In addition, the ministry has established a ‘One Week One Juzuk’ programme and a Khatam Al-Quran scheme for children under the age of 10.
With regard to Syariah law, the minister said that MoRA is committed to implementing the Syariah Criminal Law over a per-iod of time, with the first stage already in force on May 1, 2014.
The minister said that the Syariah Criminal Law is being implemented in various phases to allow for a more strategic planning and concrete ideas from various parties.
He also announced that the Halal Certification and Halal Label (Amended) Order of 2017 – which is still in the process of being gaz-etted – will include compulsory Halal certificates and permits for food businesses, while expanding the scope of Halal certification on non-food products such as cosmetics, products and services associated with transportation, storage or packaging.