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Hajj Pilgrims in Pakistan, Lagos Receive Refund After Fare Review

DESPARDES — The Ministry for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony is refunding Rs30,000 to Rs50,000 to each pilgrim traveling on government Hajj quota.

With the number of these pilgrims being over 120,000, the total expected savings will add up to almost US$32 million.

“One of my colleagues is going 4 #Hajj. He received ~ PKR 62K 4rm Min of Hajj Affairs, GoP in account of refund due 2 funds saved on hajj arrangements by govt. Acc 2 him, amt he received is PKR 20K more than amt he paid in a result of withdrawal of subsidy,” said a tweet.

The saving and refund generated is due to the hiring of less costly residential buildings and transportation facilities for Pakistani pilgrims in the kingdom for Hajj.

According to a source, the ministry decided to pass on the savings to the pilgrims and was acquiesced by the cabinet in line with the government’s austerity and governance policy.

A similar initiative has also been being taken by Lagos.

Muslim pilgrims from Lagos State will get a refund of N141,000 (US$395 = PKR63,000) each from the government.

Amir of the Lagos Hajj Delegation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Abdul-Lateef Abdul-Hakeem, said the refund showed that the Lagos administration had zero tolerance for corruption.

“We usually make intending pilgrims pay deposits of the total fare. So, whenever the National Hajj Commission prescribes the Hajj fare, we always ask pilgrims to pay more.

“But this time around, what they paid was far above what they should pay. We have to refund the money to the pilgrims. It is their money and we have no right to appropriate their money.”

About 200,000 Pakistanis would perform the sacred religious obligation this year, including 123,316 under the government scheme.

Speaking on the refund, Minister for Information Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan said the government wanted to make Hajj scandal-free, ensuring optimum facilities for the pilgrims.

Hajj 2019 will begin in the evening of Friday, 9 August and end in the evening of Wednesday, 14 August.