Senate panel urges govt to provide subsidy to Hajj pilgrims
The Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony has recommended to provide subsidy to reduce Hajj expenses and provide relief to the pilgrims.
The committee, which met under at the Parliament House under the Chairman Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, also took up the issue of Hajj quota and the complaint of some Hajj organizers from Balochistan. The committee was informed that the current year hajj expenses would be up to Rs850,000.
The panel said that the government of Pakistan should provide subsidy for the pilgrims so that the expenses can be significantly reduced and the pilgrims can benefit.
It said other countries follow a practice of providing subsidy on hajj expenditure.
Chairman Committee Senator Haideri said that the meeting of the Standing Committee has been called as an emergency to review the grievances and issues regarding the quota of Hajj group organizers from Balochistan.
He said that he had also written a letter to the Senate chairman in this regard.
Aftab Durrani, additional secretary in-charge ministry of religious affairs, told the panel that quotas have been allotted to Hajj group organizers on merit basis.
He said the Hajj policy is usually approved in December or January every year but this year the Saudi government has announced the its policy only one and a half months before the Hajj approving a quote of 81,132 pilgrims for Pakistan. Of these 40% pilgrims would perform the Hajj under the government scheme and 60% through private operators, the secretary said.
The Hajj quota has been distributed among 801 private companies out of which 64 belong to Balochistan province. The number of newly registered tour operator companies is 2907, out of which 311 are from Balochistan province.
However, the secretary said that none of the new registered company from Balochistan was allotted Hajj quote and all 64 Balochistan-based companies getting the quota were registered in the past.
He said that of the newly registered companies from Balochistan 117 were declared eligible for Hajj quota in view of audit report but the quota was allotted to older companies based on seniority and higher score.