A parliamentary panel, on Friday, recommended slashing Hajj expenses, as the government had increased them massively, blaming exchange rates and high airfare rates as the main reasons.
The Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs held a meeting in this regard at Parliament House under the chairmanship of Senator Moulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri. The meeting was attended by Senators Brig(R) John Kenneth Williams, Muhammad Yousaf Badni, Abida Muhammad Azeem along with senior officers from ministry.
The Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony has called for strict monitoring of private Hajj tour operators and stressed the need for reduction of airfares for Hajj in favor of pilgrims and enabling the common man to perform Hajj and Umrah easily.
The committee was comprehensively briefed on the Hajj policy 2019 and Hajj expenses with a particular reference to the recent increase in charges along with their reasons.
The ministry presented a brief report to the committee, explaining all aspects of the Hajj policy. The committee was informed that the Hajj expenses were increased due to a rise in exchange rates and airfare rates.
Hajj 2019’s charges under the Government’s scheme are Rs. 436,975 and 426,975 for North Pakistan and South Pakistan respectively. Qurbani or sacrificial animal’s charges will be Rs. 19,451. Similarly, airfares have also been increased from Rs. 93,000 to Rs. 110,000 for north and from Rs. 84,000 to Rs. 100,000 for the south, due to an increase in US Dollar rates.
The committee recommended that the airfare should be reviewed so that the common people can perform Hajj at cheaper rates.
The committee was also concerned over the increasing rates of private tour operators and directed the ministry to control and monitor them, as they are registered with the ministry. It also ordered that their profit should remain below the limit of 10%.
During the briefing of the Umrah policy, the committee was informed that the ministry does not regulate Umrah and at present, the interested pilgrims directly approach different tour operators for performing Umrah. The ministry informed the committee about the steps being taken to regulate the umrah service.
Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has drafted a Hajj and Umrah Secure Management Bill 2019 to protect the interests of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.