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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

25% quota for Hajj pilgrims depositing fees in dollars

The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony has announced 25 % special quota in the government Hajj scheme for the pilgrims who will pay fees in dollars.

The ministry also confirmed that the intending pilgrims, depositing dues in US dollars, would be exempted from the balloting under the new Hajj policy and the government would incentivize them. 

Moreover, the government announced that about 22,400 pilgrims would benefit from the ‘Sponsorship Scheme’, introduced by the ministry in the wake of the current foreign exchange reserves in the country. The ministry also confirmed that the Hajj 2023 expenses could be submitted through foreign remittances in dollars to boost the foreign reserves of the country. 

Read more: Hajj fare to range from $810 to $1,150: PIA

Additionally, the Ministry of Finance had also indicated that the government would not be able to arrange 2 billion dollars for the Hajj 2023 due to the forex liquidity problem.

Furthermore, the Religious Ministry has increased the Hajj quota for private operators from 40% to 50%, which might be further raised amid a persistent foreign exchange liquidity crunch. The ministry said it would charge Rs 1.1 million from each pilgrim under the government scheme, but the Hajj expenses might rise to Rs 1.3 million in case of further currency devaluation.  

In addition to this, the Saudi Government also seeks to increase the tax rate on Hajj by 18 to 20%. Earlier, Saudi Arabia allocated a quota of nearly 180,000 Pakistani Hajj pilgrims for Hajj 2023. 

Read more: Cost of Hajj for Pakistan in 2021 vs 2022

According to the official details, the government of Pakistan signed a bilateral agreement with Saudi Arabia for Haj 2023, after which it was announced that this year, 179,210 Pakistani pilgrims will perform the annual ritual.

The agreement was signed by the Federal Minister of Religious Affairs, Mufti Abdul Shakoor, and the Acting Director General (DG) Hajj, Sajid Manzoor Asadi. 

According to the agreement, 50% of pilgrims would arrive at Madinah Airport, while the other 50 % at Jeddah Airport. The first Hajj flight will depart on 1st Dhuʻl-Qiʻdah, while the accommodation will be announced on 15th Shaban.

Read more: Women no longer need male guardian to perform Umrah, Hajj