AAPEC demands reversal of increase in Hajj expenses

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SOURCEThe Express Tribune
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ISLAMABAD:  Association of All Pakistan’s Enrolled Companies (AAPEC) has asked the government to review the recent hike in the Hajj package and make it reachable for a common man.

Addressing a news conference in Islamabad, AAPEC central chief supervisor Shahjahan Khalil said the government should either reverse its decision of surge in Hajj expenses or hand it over completely to the private tour operators.

He said that Hajj is a religious task which everyone desired to perform but with every passing day its offering is getting tougher.

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Khalil declared while providing the best facilities to the pilgrims, package of Rs380,000 for the residents of north zone and Rs370,000 for the residents of the south zone is possible.

Also Read: Minister foresees further increase in Hajj cost

Khalil observed that the government had put behind the Supreme Court’s verdict regarding Hajj quota and its allotment to the old HGOs was a violation of article 18 and 25.

He warned if the ministry did not accept the demands of AAPEC, the body would knock the door of Supreme Court for a stay order on Hajj policy and forward the suggested packages.

Under the government, Haj scheme for 2019, a package for residents from the northern region of the country will now cost Rs436,975 and for residents of the south region (Karachi, Quetta, and Sukkur) it will cost Rs426,975. The charges are exclusive of the costs for Qurbani (animal sacrifice) services.

For those opting to avail qurbani services, the costs go up by Rs20,000 per category. Therefore, for northern residents, the package will cost Rs456,975 and for southern residents, it will come to Rs446,975.

Additionally, pilgrims are required to carry a sum of 2,000 Saudi riyals in excess while traveling.

Biometric services will now be provided to people in far-flung areas as well so they do not have to travel to the main cities to fulfill the Haj application requirement.

Govt may revive subsidy for Hajj pilgrims

This year Hajj applications will be open to a total of 184,210 aspiring pilgrims. Of the total quota, 60 per cent will be allotted to the government and the remaining 40pc will be granted to private Haj Group Organisers (HGOs).

Of the total applicants, 10,000 seats will be reserved for senior citizens who are above the age of 80 years.

From the government quota, 1.5pc will be assigned to hardship cases and 500 seats will be reserved for labourers and low paid workers registered with the Employees Old Age Benefits Institution (EOBI).

All pilgrims would be provided meals three times a day through authorised caterers during their stay in Makkah and Madina and through the respective makatib in Mashair (Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah).

(This news/article originally appeared in The Express Tribune on February 12th, 2019)

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