ISLAMABAD:Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan Friday said the present government had no control on expenses incurred in Saudi Arabia for Hajj and the expenditure on Hajj for Pakistani pilgrims increased due to devaluation of rupee against the Saudi Riyal.
He was responding to the Calling Attention Notice of Senator Mushtaq Ahmed in the Senate about increase in Hajj expenses by the government this year.
The minister said the government was determined to create State of Medina, adding the government had to increase expense on Hajj because of various reasons.
“In 2017-2018, the Hajj policy was made and the previous government due to election year, did not increase Hajj expenses.”
The rupee devalued against the Saudi Riyal from Rs 29 to Rs 39 and in Saudi Arabia the accommodation charges increased from Rs 60000 to Rs 94185 and transportation charges rose from Rs 9280 to 13400.
Food charges hiked from Rs 23000 to Rs 38000, charges of accommodation in Medina increased from Rs 23000 to Rs 40000, train charges went up from Rs 7000 to Rs 20000 and some other charges rose from Rs 30000 to Rs 70000, he explained.
He said the government would try to give relief to the Hajj pilgrims.
Senator Mustaq Ahmed, who gave the calling attention notice, said Hajj was an international congregation of Muslims and it should be responsibility of the government to give relief on Hajj expenses.
He said the Ministry of Religious Affairs recommended that Rs 45000 subsidy should be given to Hajj pilgrims but it was not done. Council of Islamic Ideology also gave its recommendation that the government could give subsidy on Hajj expense.
He said in the tenure of the last government, the Haj expense was fixed at Rs 280,000 but this time the Hajj expense was hiked to Rs 456,000.
As compared to Hajj expenditure in India, Bangladesh and Iran, the expenses for Hajj pilgrims in Pakistan were higher due to which it had become difficult for the lower and middle classes to perform Hajj.
He urged the government to address the concerns of Hajjis, adding prices of sugar, oil and other edible items got higher and now Hajj was also out of reach of the common man.