| Wani Roslan |
SEVERAL matters were raised or proposed during the 15th Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting yesterday, including lists of Halal-certified products, housing assistance for the poor and Zakat distribution.
Member of the LegCo Yang Berhormat Haji Umarali bin Esung proposed that the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) issue a guidebook containing lists of Halal products and restaurants in Brunei, for the convenience of the public.
In response, Minister of Religious Affairs Yang Berhormat Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman said that private agencies, such as business bodies and associations, should take on the task of creating websites listing Halal-certified products and restaurants, with the data and facts supplied by the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB).
Meanwhile, member of the LegCo Yang Berhormat Haji Mohimin bin Haji Johari @ Jahari raised the issue of slowed housing construction assistance under MUIB. In addition, he suggested the appointment of a consultant to boost the efficacy of Baitulmal operations and the management of Zakat, towards the empowerment of the poor and destitute (Fakir Miskin), as well as persons under the burden of debt (Al-Gharimin).
By way of reply, the Minister of Religious Affairs pointed out that various efforts have been made by the Islamic Da’wah Centre and MUIB to provide housing assistance through Zakat distribution committees, district offices and other means.
He also added that housing assistance would be provided for those classified as Asnaf Zakat (welfare recipients), with the housing scheme area to be given and determined by the Ministry of Development, through the Housing Development Department, while MUIB would select the most eligible recipients.
On the second issue raised by Yang Berhormat Haji Mohimin, the minister said that with several volunteer groups already offering assistance to MUIB in the distribution of Zakat, there was no need for a consultant.
He also provided statistics of individuals listed under Fakir Miskin, who successfully obtained better employment through the training and funds that they received.
Member of the LegCo Yang Berhormat Naim bin Haji Kamis then queried about the collection and distribution of Zakat, and its effectiveness in achieving zero poverty, as well as the effectiveness of providing equipment to recipients for the setting up of small businesses.
In this matter, thee minister pointed out that various efforts have been made to assist Asnaf Zakat, including financial assistance and life-changing gifts such as lawn-mowers and sewing-machines.
“From time to time, about USD16-17 million worth of Zakat is collected every year, with the balance from previous years being used to provide assistance for impoverished families,” he said.