The Pakistan Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony has decided to allocate a 25 per cent special quota in the Government Hajj Scheme for the pilgrims who will deposit hajj fares in dollars, ARY News reported.
The ministry also decided that the intending pilgrims, depositing dues in dollars, would be exempted from the balloting under the new Hajj policy, official sources said on Friday -meaning that those who paid in dollars will be given automatic seat.
They said about 22,400 pilgrims would benefit from the ‘Sponsorship Scheme’ being introduced by the ministry in the wake of the current foreign exchange reserves in the country.
The Hajj expenses could also be submitted through foreign remittances in dollars, the sources added.
They said the Ministry of Finance had indicated that it would not be able to arrange some 2 billion dollars for the Hajj in view of the forex liquidity problem.
The sources said the Religious Ministry had increased the Hajj quota for private operators from 40 per cent to 50 per cent, which might be further raised in the wake of a persistent foreign exchange liquidity crunch.
They said the ministry would charge Rs 1.1 million from each pilgrim under the government scheme, but the Hajj expenses might rise to Rs 1.3 million in case of further depreciation of the rupee.
The sources said the Saudi Government was increasing the tax rate on Hajj by 18 to 20 percent.
Last Month, Saudi Arabia allocated a quota of nearly 180,000 pilgrims to Pakistan who will be able to perform the annual Hajj ritual in 2023.
According to details, the government of Pakistan (GoI) signed a bilateral agreement with Saudi Arabia for Haj 2023, after which it was announced that this year, 179,210 Pakistani pilgrims will perform the annual ritual.
The agreement was signed by Federal Minister of Religious Affairs Mufti Abdul Shakoor, Acting Director General (DG) Hajj Sajid Manzoor Asadi.
The agreement stated that 50 percent of pilgrims would arrive at Madinah Airport, while the other 50 percent at Jeddah Airport. The first Hajj flight will depart on 1st Dhuʻl-Qiʻdah, while the accommodation will be announced on 15th Shaban.