The Senate Sub-Committee on the Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony in its meeting held on Monday at Parliament House, discussed the detail of cost increase of the Hajj Package. Cost reduction options were also discussed.
The Committee showed reservations over the increase of Hajj Package and directed that all possible measures must be taken to facilitate Hujjaj during Hajj 2020. 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.
Convener Committee, Senator Hafiz Abdul Karim directed that all possible measures must be taken to ensure that Hujjaj are 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 PKR 8.7 billion available with Ministry from Hajj collection account PKR 5 billion may be utilised 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 pettey 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.