The Ministry of Religious Affairs’ (MoRA) will devote $179 million towards building new ugama schools and extensions, its minister said on Thursday. 

Some $17 million has been allocated for the completion of the Arabic school in Kg Rimba National Housing Scheme and another $1.8 million to the Jalan Bedil Religious School.

Speaking at a Legislative Council meeting, YB Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Badaruddin Pengarah Dato Paduka Hj Othman said the completion of some schools in Brunei-Muara had been delayed, but provided no further elaboration. 

A total of $25 million has been set aside for construction of new buildings for the Seri Begawan Religious Teachers University College (KUPU SB), while $16.5 million has been allocated to new extensions for religious schools in Batu Marang, Tanah Jambu, Kiulap and Kg Bolkiah. 

The central government has also given MoRA an additional $20 million in development expenditure to supplement its annual budget, bringing the total to $256 million for 2018/19.

According to YB Pehin Dato Ustaz Hj Badaruddin, while spending on religious education is the main thrust of the ministry’s budget, other allocations include:

• $19 million for the management of assets;  ICT; the Haj; and religious affairs in respective districts

• $24 million for the propagation of Islam, which includes a budget for the celebration of Islamic holidays

• $6 million for the Islamic Religious Council, as well as the prosecution and enforcement of Islamic law 

• $5.9 million for social welfare services, such as family counselling; and the collection and distribution of zakat

Commenting on halal permits and certification, the minister said 1,572 halal certificates have been issued to restaurants; 6,607 halal permit issued for local products; and 344 halal permits for products from overseas.

A total of 213 halal certificates have also been issued for local factories and 22 certificates for factories overseas.

To date, seven restaurants have applied for and been granted exemptions from halal certification because they do not meet the criteria.