Khatijah Ali said she turned down the Haj Financial Assistance offered by Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) this year for it to be extended to prospective pilgrims in greater need.
The private sector retiree from Melaka viewed the decision as “sedekah” (alms) to help more people aspiring to perform the pilgrimage benefit from this assistance.
The 63-year-old decided to pay the full haj cost of RM30,850 instead of the RM19,870 she was offered through TH’s Haj Financial Assistance scheme.
“I began saving with Tabung Haji on Feb 2, 2007, and registered for the haj on Jan 7, 2009. I have enough savings, so I decided not to take the offered assistance in aid of others,” she told Bernama.
Haj Financial Assistance is an initiative introduced by TH to help first-time pilgrims from the B40 and M40 groups.
TH has allocated RM400mil this year to cover the cost of performing the haj for these groups, and said they will continue to provide the aid in a targeted manner despite the cost of the pilgrimage increasing to RM30,850 from RM28,632 last year.
An agricultural project operator in Perak who only wished to be known as Saleh, 48, said he chose to use his own savings, which his parents front-loaded in Tabung Haji in the early 1980s and which he continued when he got older.
“Although I was offered the Haj Financial Assistance, I believe it can be channelled to those who need it more,” he said.
Saleh, who was supposed to perform the haj in 2022, had to postpone it due to Covid-19, was placed in this year’s haj queue.
Meanwhile, senior lecturer at Universiti Utara Malaysia’s School of Economics, Finance and Banking, Dr Nur Hafizah Mohammad Ismail, said the targeted Haj Financial Assistance will alleviate the burden of pilgrims who face financial difficulties in performing the haj for the first time.
She described the assistance as inclusive, saying that it ensures that all pilgrims, regardless of their financial background, have the opportunity to perform the haj.
In response to some #Haj Financial Assistance recipients paying the full cost, Nur Hafizah said any unused funds can be redistributed as dividends to TH depositors in the subsequent year.
“I believe it can further enhance TH’s financial performance, especially dividends. However, if the expenditure for Haj Financial Assistance increases in tandem with rising operational costs, this will have an effect on dividend rates,” she said.
She also welcomed TH’s effort to introduce a targeted assistance structure this year that takes into account variations in income and financial capacity among pilgrims within the three primary categories – B40, M40 and T20.
“Unlike the two categories in 2022, which were B40 and non-B40 groups, the targeted haj payment structure is beneficial for a more inclusive implementation that takes into account social justice and financial capability,” she added.
Source: the star
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