The Religious affairs ministry official said that Haj expenses for a single person this year were likely to decrease by Rs40,000 after productive talks with Saudi government.
An official, after a meeting of the Senate’s standing committee on religious affairs the other day, said, “If the rupee remains stable, the Haj package under the government scheme will come down to Rs1.13 million from Rs1.17m, for the northern region, and to Rs1.12m from Rs1.16m for the southern region.”
Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa fall under the the northern region while southern region includes Sindh and Balochistan. The difference is due to lower air fares from the southern region.
To a query over reasons for a jump in expenditure this year under the government scheme, the official cited the Saudi government’s decision to raise charges of food and rents for accommodation in Makkah and Madina made the Hajj expensive.
The charges for food have gone up from Rs 53,440 last year to Rs100,238, and Haj dues from Rs302,303 to Rs356,066, he clarified.
But, the official continued, the key reason for hefty package was rupee’s declining value. The number of Pakis¬tanis allowed by the Saudi government to perform Haj is 179,210.
Sixty per cent of the quota was usually assigned to the government Haj scheme and 40 per cent to private operators, but the ministry of religious affairs has decided to give 50 per cent of the quota to the latter this year.