The cost of undertaking Haj has increased by more than 50 per cent this year for Pakistanis, as the current ruling government of Pakistan has abolished the financial support given to pilgrims for the purpose.
Speaking exclusively to the Times of Oman, a Pakistani entrepreneur based in Muscat said that Haj expenses for people living in both the northern and southern regions of the country have increased. “People from the northern area who intend to perform Haj this year would have to pay approximately Rs.4,37,000 (OMR1,200), increasing from Rs.2,80,000 (OMR771) in 2018. However, those from the southern part will have to pay approximately Rs.4,28,000 (OMR1,179), previously paying Rs.2,70,000 (OMR744),” said Ali Jaffar, Managing Partner at Shifa Travel and Tourism.
“Having said that, it is to be noted that Pakistani expats living in the Sultanate and intending to perform Haj, the cost will be even higher, as they have to first go to Pakistan to join the group of pilgrims. So, they have to bear the expenses of additional flight tickets from Oman to Pakistan,” Jaffar said.
He added that another reason for the increasing cost of Haj is also due to the depreciation of the Pakistani rupee, as compared to last year.
According to the new Haj policy 2019, more than 150,000 applications will be accepted this year, with 60 per cent allotted to the government and the remaining 40 will be granted to private travel agencies. Mohammed Zaeem, General Secretary of Pakistan Social Club Oman, said that the decision by the government of Pakistan should be taken positively as their intention is to cut down on the expenditure, but it would have been better if it had been implemented from next year.
“The former government had sanctioned a subsidy of around Rs.50,000 for each pilgrim during its tenure, but the present government decided to end it last week in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, keeping in mind the economic situation of the country.”
This news should be taken positively by all Pakistanis who are living in Oman and across the globe, as the intention is to cut down on expenses that were a burden on the economy. However, it would have been much better if the new policy was implemented from next year as the date for submitting applications for Hajj is due this month. This leaves very little time for those who have been saving up for a long time to perform Hajj this year,” Zaeem added.