Hajj 2018: Ministry seeks Rs4b subsidy to facilitate pilgrims

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Ministry for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony has demanded Rs4 billion subsidy from the Ministry of Finance for covering up additional expenses of intending hajj pilgrims during Hajj 2018.

This move came after considering imposition of Value Added Tax (VAT) by the Saudi government which has ultimately caused a price hike in the country.

An official privy to this development told the media that recently the religious affairs ministry has written a letter to the finance ministry seeking financial assistance for paying the additional expenses of Pakistani hajj pilgrims.

“This year the ministry has offered hajj packages ranging from Rs270, 000 to Rs280, 000 per pilgrim, therefore it is impossible to make arrangements in Saudi Arabia with this meagre amount,” said the official.

“Every year the Ministry of Religious Affairs makes all-out efforts to provide best possible transportation, accommodation facilities along with quality food to the intending pilgrims,” said the official. He added that currently the ministry requires an additional amount of Rs30,000 to Rs35,000 for each pilgrim in order to offer the planned amenities.

Meanwhile, talking about the second hajj balloting, the official said that the Ministry of Religious Affairs is waiting to get a final go-head from Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi regarding the final quota decided for the hajj scheme.

“It is expected that the much delayed second balloting may take place this week,” said the official.

The official further said that the federal ministry has also filed a plea in the Supreme Court for increasing the Hajj scheme quota from 60 % to around 70 %. However, amid the ongoing delay of funds, the religious affairs ministry has started making arrangements and training the intending pilgrims in different cities.