Hajj cost increased by 131 pc in 9 yrs
Staff Correspondent: This is the first time Bangladesh has got the opportunity to send the full quota of pilgrims after the Corona pandemic. But due to the exorbitant cost, pilgrims are losing interest in Hajj despite their desire. As a result, the pilgrims are not meeting even after extending the time. Rather, some are canceling the registration. Deposited money is also withdrawn. As a result, there is a fear that the Hajj quota of Bangladesh will not be fulfilled this time. In this situation, the Ministry of Religion is thinking of extending another round of time.
This time, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has officially set a fee of Tk 6 lakh 83 thousand 618 per person for Hajj. And Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAAB) announced a package of Tk 6 lakh 72 thousand 618 privately. In 2022, the minimum package for Hajj was Tk 5 lakh 22 thousand 744. That is, the package fee has increased by Tk 1.5 lakh in both stages this year. Note that the minimum Hajj package in 2015 was Tk 2 lakh 96 thousand 206. This cost has increased by 131 percent or more than doubled in the last nine years.
And this is why the Hajj quota is not being fulfilled this time. As a result, the Ministry of Religious Affairs extended the notification by five days. That doesn’t match the response either. And because of this, the government is thinking of extending the registration time again. According to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, this time 127,198 people from Bangladesh can go for Hajj. Out of this, 15,000 under government management, and 112,198 under private management will have the opportunity to go to Hajj.
After the announcement of the package, the Ministry of Religious Affairs issued a notification to complete the registration of pre-registered pilgrims on February 5. It is said there that registration should be completed between February 8 and February 23 in both public and private management. As the registration was not done as expected during this period, the Ministry of Religion issued a notice on the night of February 22 till February 28, extending the time by five days.
According to the newly issued notice, for the information of 2023 Hajj pilgrims, Hajj agencies and all concerned, the Saudi government is going to introduce the biometric visa system for Hajj pilgrims this year. All the necessary preparations have been taken from the Ministry of Religious Affairs to submit the visa application under this procedure. To apply for a visa in this new method, the passport must be kept with oneself for the time being.
The notification also said that those who have already submitted their passports to the Ashkona Hajj office in Dhaka by registering with the government, they can go there and apply for a biometric visa when the visa process starts. Or you can apply for visa from any other center with passport from there. Once the visa process starts, the visa submission center and the visa procedure will be communicated to everyone. Besides, the scheduled time for Hajj registration has been extended till 4 pm on February 28, the notification informed.
According to sources, many started registering from the day after the announcement of the Hajj package. Till February 26, against the quota of 1 lakh 27 thousand 198 thousand, only 17 thousand Haj pilgrims have registered both ballot and non-ballot. It is known that after registering for the last two or three days, they are canceling it. Again, withdrawing money.
The concerned officials of the Ministry of Religion said that if the quota is not fulfilled by the 28th, the registration period may be extended. And it can be till March 10.
According to sources, the package for Hajj this year excluding the cost of sacrifice has been estimated at Tk 6 lakh 83 thousand 18 in the government and Tk 6 lakh 72 thousand 618 in the private sector. Including the sacrifice, the cost will exceed seven lakhs. Which is difficult for the middle class to afford.
It is known that air fare is one of the reasons for the increase in Hajj expenses. The minimum cost of Hajj in 2015 was Tk 2 lakh 96 thousand 206, in 2016 Tk 3 lakh 4 thousand, in 2017 Tk 3 lakh 19 thousand, in 2018 Tk 3 lakh 31 thousand, in 2019 Tk 3 lakh 45 thousand. In between, Hajj was stopped in 2020 and 2021 due to the Corona epidemic. Hajj package in 2022 was Tk 5 lakh 27 thousand 340. And Tk 6 lakh 83 thousand 618 has been made in the current year. In the last five years, the expenditure on Hajj journey has increased by Tk 3 lakh 38 thousand 15. Airfare has also increased.
Private Hajj agency owners say that this time the cost of Hajj has increased unprecedentedly. More people than the prescribed quota pre-registered to go for Hajj. This time the situation is different. Pre-registration is not increasing due to increase in cost. They said the Ministry of Religion has extended the registration time. Maybe it will increase again. If costs are not reduced, there will be no profit. They also say that despite the desire of people, they are not interested in going to Haj due to the high cost. That is why it is necessary to reschedule the package including air fare considering the situation.
In this context, HAAB President M Shahadat Hossain Taslim told, ‘Due to Corona, Hajj was stopped for two consecutive years. This time, even if you get the opportunity to perform Hajj, the cost has increased too much. Costs have almost doubled due to the dollar and oil prices. But the price of fuel has not increased in that way.
He also said, ‘HAAB always tries to keep the cost of Haj within the reach of people. We also want the cost of Hajj to be reconsidered.
It should be noted that the holy Hajj is scheduled to be held in Saudi Arabia on June 27 subject to the sighting of the moon.
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