Ministry reserves 25 % quota for Hajj pilgrims depositing dues in dollars

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The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony has decided to allocate a 25 percent special quota in the Government Hajj Scheme for the pilgrims who will deposit dues in dollars.

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.

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 percent to 50 percent, which might be further raised in the wake of 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.