News From : DagangHalal.com (12 Jan 2010)
Bandar Seri Begawan – The Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) has announced the recent endorsement of the Sultanate’s halal pharmaceutical guidelines put together by a group of government agencies.
Slated to be the first of its kind, the set of guidelines is seen to help Brunei Darussalam attract investors keen on grabbing a share of the market for halal-certified pharmaceuticals. BEDB Chief Executive Officer Vincent Cheong said the guidelines would “help with convincing foreign investors to look at Brunei as a location for the manufacturing of halal pharmaceuticals.
“Because it is the first of its kind in the world, it will be good for us to use this as an opportunity for first-mover advantage,” he added.
In a press statement, the BEDB said the guidelines were put together by government agencies including the Brunei Islamic Religious Council, the Islamic Religious Council Office, the Department of Syariah Affairs and the Islamic Legal Unit of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the State Mufti’s Office from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood from the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, the Department of Pharmaceutical Services from the Ministry of Health and the Brunei Economic Development Board.
‘This is not a BEDS thing, it involves ministries and agencies and the BEDS is just one of the parts to this, and we give MI credit to the team who have got the guidelines up and running,” said Cheong.
BEDB will act as the investor promotion body that will promote Brunei as a destination for halal pharmaceutical manufacturing. What led to BEDS taking the initiative in helping put together the guidelines was the interest expressed by foreign investors in setting up halal pharmaceutical plants in Brunei, said Cheong.
“We have had some investors – who came up to us – who wanted to manufacture, and we thought, why not look at halal pharmaceuticals.
Viva, a pharmaceutical company from Canada, is currently in partnership with a Brunei entity for the proposed manufacture and supply of halal-certified medicines, vitamins and nutritional supplements in the region.
“With Viva their approximate investment in Brunei is US$12 million and will create close to 100 jobs in Brunei.” said Cheong.
“Once Viva is successful, and we are sure that Viva will be successful, hopefully more and more companies start jumping on the bandwagon in Brunei.”
At the moment the guidelines cover a range of the procedures of the manufacturing process, starting from the ingredient level to ensuring that the manufacturing facilities are kept halal.
“This would also include the ingredient producers who wish to supply to manufacturers, because it does cover ingredients so we would also be looking out to entice companies or to invite companies who would be interested in ingredients, as obviously these are ingredients which would have to go through the halal pharmaceutical process,” said Cheong.
Meanwhile, the relevant government ministries will be looking to initiatives at making the halal pharmaceutical standards available for use as a global benchmark, he said.
These guidelines, he said, would be useful for Brunei because it would “create and put Brunei on the world map for halal”.
He added: “We already have a strong Islamic credibility but we believe that it will strengthen our credibility internationally, so one of the things that will be desirous for us to go to, is to establish this as an international benchmark.”
Asked if the halal pharmaceutical guidelines and the attraction of foreign investors will be linked to establishing their facilities in the slated halal Agro-Technology Park, Cheong said, “I think eventually what we will see is that the halal Agro-Technology park is just a facility space or land.
The agrotech park will form another nucleus whereby more and more companies can set up their facilities within the agro-tech park.” Cheong said that he doesn’t think the guidelines will affect the local pharmaceutical import market.
“Being Muslims, I’m sure that it doesn’t mean that if you are sick, and if you have to consume medicine, halal or Karam doesn’t come into place very much, but how we see it is that if there was an alternative of halal medicines, certainly Muslims will prefer to take it,” he said. — Courtesy of The Brunei Times