Wednesday, 25 May, 2022

Hajj gets costlier

Lowest package to cost Tk 456,530

The government has announced two Hajj packages for 2022 that will have the pilgrims from Bangladesh spend over Tk1 lakh more than the last time to perform the holy duty.

State Minister for Religious Affairs Md Faridul Haque Khan announced the hajj packages at a press conference after the meeting of the executive committee on hajj management at the secretariat on Wednesday.

According to the announcement, package-1 will cost Tk 527,340, which is Tk 102,340 higher than that of 2020. Package- 2 will cost Tk 462,000, which is Tk 102,150 higher than the 2nd Hajj package announced by the government on February 24, 2020.

There will not be any third package this year. 

The state minister also proposed a Tk 456,530 hajj package under private management, which is Tk 94,730 higher than that of 2020.

Apart from these Hajj packages, each pilgrim will have to spend an additional Tk 19,683 for Qurbani and the Saudi government has suggested depositing money through Saudi Islamic Development Bank or any other banks approved by them.    The state minister said while announcing Hajj packages for this year, they have calculated the airfare, house rent in Saudi Arabia, service charges, Muallem fees, Zamzam water, food costs and other fees.

“We have prepared the Hajj package considering the potential expense of pilgrims as the Saudi government has taken much time in announcing the Hajj due to coronavirus pandemic and hasn’t shared details of the expense of the Hajj pilgrims yet,” he said.

The state minister said the proposed packages have been approved by the Executive Committee on Hajj Management.

Stating that no expenditure has increased in the Bangladesh side, Faridul Haque Khan said, “The exchange rate of Saudi Riyal was Tk 23 in 2020, which soared to Tk 24.30 now. In addition, the Saudi government has imposed 15 percent VAT and service charge on all sectors in Saudi Arabia.”

“Besides, the muacchachar (company of muallems) fees have been doubled this year while house rents have also increased. All these factors are responsible for the increase in package rates,” he added.

He said the pilgrims registered in any of the three packages of 2020 will have to complete the registration of 2022 by selecting package-1 or package-2 announced for 2022 and transferring the package.

“In that case, the banks will immediately confirm the receipt of the money for the package transfer in the e-Hajj system of the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Once the payment is confirmed, the pilgrim will be given his Pilgrim ID (PID) from the e-Hajj system,” the state minister said.

“The registered Hajj pilgrims who will not complete the registration this year or will not be able to go for Hajj by transferring the package of 2020, their Hajj registration will be cancelled and they will get their money back as per the rules,” according to Faridul Haque Khan.

The state minister said that the pilgrims under package-1 will be within a maximum of 1000 meters from the boundary of holy Masjid al-Haram premises while the pilgrims of package-2 will be within a maximum of 1500 meters and there will be a guide for each 44 Hajj pilgrims.

Each Hajj agency can send a minimum of 100 and a maximum of 300 pilgrims. Hajj agencies will not be allowed to sell air tickets to any agency other than the Hajj agencies and no Hajj agency can be given more than 300 tickets under any circumstances, he said.

Meanwhile, Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAAB), a platform of private hajj tour operators, will formally announce its hajj package deals through a press conference at a Dhaka hotel on Thursday, it said in a press release.

After a hiatus of two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, some 57,585 Bangladeshis will be performing Hajj this year. Among them, 4,000 will be going through the government packages and 53,585 through the private ones.

The government has declared to operate the first Hajj flight of this year on May 31.

Hajj, a mandatory ritual for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime, is expected to begin on July 9 this year, subject to the sighting of the Moon.

The most important pilgrimage for Muslims was held on a limited scale in the last two years.