Hajj 2023: Hajj Agencies of Bangladesh urges PM to reduce airfare
Ministry finds hajj package cost “lowest” amid global situation
The Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (Haab) on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, seeking her intervention to reduce the airfare in this year’s hajj package, terming it “too high and irrational”.
This year, the hajj package has been fixed at Tk6,71,290 under the government management and Tk6,60,893 under private arrangement, after a deduction of Tk11,725 announced by the government, with the airfare of Tk1.97 lakh, which was Tk1.40 lakh last year.
“In reality, the airfare is too high and irrational. That is why the declared hajj package has not been accepted by all stakeholders, but criticised widely. As Biman is a commercial organisation, it was not a proper step to determine airfare by their single authority,” Haab wrote in a letter to the PM, said its president M Shahadat Hossain in a seminar organised by the Religious Reporters Forum (RRF) in the capital on Sunday.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs, however, termed this year’s hajj package cost lowest under current circumstances.
“Due to the global situation and demolition of various hotels near the Haram Sharif in Saudi Arabia, renting hotels has become expensive this year,” said a press release of the ministry on Sunday.
Considering various reasons, this year’s hajj package can be regarded as having reduced costs, it said, adding that costs will rise in the coming years as it will take two to three years to rebuild those houses and hotels in the kingdom.
The ministry also requested pilgrims to register for this year’s hajj as soon as possible.
However, in the letter sent to the PM, Haab also asked for the formation of a technical committee to determine the airfare.
“The number of pilgrims may decrease by 50,000 next year, if the cost of hajj does not decrease”, said Haab President Shahadat, adding that a cut in the airfare could lessen the devotees’ dissatisfaction with the hajj package.
On the other hand, terming the registration progress satisfactory, State Minister for Religious Affairs Faridul Haque Khan said that he is optimistic about fulfilling the quota of 1,27,198 pilgrims from Bangladesh within the deadline.
However, due to the rise in costs, many aspirants are not registering for hajj even after doing pre-registration. According to the latest data, there are 8,874 registrations left to fulfil the quota with the deadline extended again till 5 April.
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