Senate body expresses reservations over increase in cost of Hajj package

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A legislative body of the Upper House of parliament on Monday showed reservations over the increase in the cost of Hajj package and directed that all possible measures must be taken to facilitate pilgrims during Hajj 2020.

This was discussed in the Senate Sub-Committee on the Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony, held on Monday at the Parliament House. They discussed the cost reduction options.

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The committee was informed that main cause for increase in cost was devaluation of Pakistani rupee in international market. The Hajj Package depends upon rates received from the Directorate General of Hajj Jeddah based on market survey. The major components of the Hajj Package include, Makkah and Madinah accommodations, compulsory Hajj dues, food charges, Mashaa’ir charges, transport charges, train charges and air fare etc. 75 per cent Hajj Expenses is incurred in KSA and remaining in Pakistan in connection with payments of airfare to airlines and welfare activities for the Hujjaj. The Committee was informed that all Hujjaj are reimbursed any extra amount that is saved from the Package.

Committee Convener Senator Hafiz Abdul Karim directed that all possible measures must be taken to ensure that Hujjaj were not burdened by excessive expenses. He asserted that instead of reimbursements at a later stage, Hujjaj must be given relief upfront. He further said that even those who are not selected for Hajj despite applying; must be reimbursed within a week.

The Committee was informed that the Government has taken measures to provide relief to Hujjaj that includes reduction in airfare by USD 50. Out of a saving of Rs 8.7 billion available with Ministry from Hajj collection account Rs 5 billion may be utilized as one time dispensation. The KSA Government will be requested to exempt fees/levies

The Committee recommended that all measures must be taken to reduce rates of Makkah Madinah accommodation, Prime Minister must take up the Road to Makkah project with KSA Government. Flights must operate from all major airports and pities expenses must be taken from Hajj welfare Fund Hujjaj are not burdened.

Chaired by Senator Hafiz Abdul Karim, the meeting was attended by Senator Manzoor Ahmed Kakar and senior officers from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony along with all concerned.