Thursday, February 21, 2019 | ePaper

Cost of performing Hajj should be affordable for common pilgrims

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PERFORMING Hajj by Bangladeshis will cost more this year, mainly due to increases in house rent and other service charges in Saudi Arabia. It was expected that the expenditure for performing Hajj would be reasonable this year as the Bangladesh government has reduced the airfare. Newspapers reported that, the maximum cost for Hajj under government management has been fixed at Tk 4,18,500 this year, which is Tk 20,571 more than previous year. The regular Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office on Monday approved the draft of Hajj Package-2019. The minimum expense under the arrangement would be Tk 3,44,000, which is Tk 12,641 more than the previous year. The minimum expenditure of a pilgrim, who wants to perform hajj under private management, will be Tk 3,44,000 which was Tk 3,32,868 last year.
Cabinet Secretary said house rent in Saudi Arabia has been increased by Tk 10,043 this year. The Saudi government increased Tk 24,981 for pilgrims who will travel by train and Tk 19,035 for those who will not avail the service during Hajj. Those who performed Hajj or got Hajj visas in the last three years since 2016 have to pay additional 2,100 Saudi riyals, equivalent to Tk 46,505, this year. We think, the pilgrims will have to spend much more money this year if they want to go through private travel agencies.
It becomes a regular phenomenon that thousands of Hajj pilgrims have to suffer for the delay in getting valid visas. There are also widespread allegations that the maltreatment of Hajj pilgrims at the hands of private agencies while the latter stay in the holy cities of Makkah and Medina. Several pilgrims become the victims of gross irregularities committed by some agencies or their brokers.
We do urge the authorities concerned to take a long-standing strategy to make the Hajj travel hassle-free as well as economic. If necessary, the matter could be placed before the Saudi government to get special consideration while over one lakh pilgrims go to Saudi Arabia every year from Bangladesh to perform Hajj.

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