Selangor Journal
Aerial view of Mina area ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage, in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on July 18, 2021. — Picture via REUTERS

Tabung Haji studying need for targeted haj payments to help B40 perform pilgrimage

KUALA LUMPUR, April 13 — Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) is studying the need to make a targeted structuring of haj payments according to the capability and income of the pilgrims to help those who wish to perform the religious pilgrimage.

TH Haj Executive Director Datuk Seri Syed Saleh Syed Abdul Rahman said the structuring of the haj payment could help prospective pilgrims, especially the B40 group, to fulfil the fifth pillar of Islam despite being less able.

He said no decision had been made on the matter thus far, as it needed to consider feedback from various parties.

“Roughly speaking, there are ‘muassasah’ pilgrims, there are private package pilgrims. The pilgrims of this private package are those who can afford it and do not need financial assistance, while the muassasah pilgrims have various categories, including the low-income group.

“We take this matter into account, and we get feedback from various parties including economists, academics, travel agents and the government whether it is necessary to create another targeted pilgrimage payment structure according to their capabilities,” he said on the Ruang Bicara programme broadcast by Bernama TV titled, ‘Understanding the Issues of Cost, Assistance and Payment for Haj’ here last night.

He also denied that the increase in costs for muassasah pilgrims this year is due to the financial difficulties faced by TH as the body had announced dividend distribution to contributors, which showed that its financial standing was sound.

He said the increase was instead due to inflation, tax factors and other services in Saudi Arabia.

Syed Saleh also said that the cost of haj is the entire cost incurred for the entire pilgrimage, covering the haj payment and haj financial assistance, and it is divided into direct and indirect costs.

“Direct costs are costs that need to be paid to perform the haj, including flight costs, accommodation, food, bus transport and services prepared by Saudi Arabia while indirect costs are services and facilities prepared by TH free of charge for pilgrims such as book publications, haj courses, payments for officials and health services.

“Haj financial assistance is payments borne by TH for a pilgrim while haj payment is payments borne by pilgrims who perform the haj,” he said.
On the estimated total costs and haj payment for this year, he said the matter would be announced soon.

According to Saleh, TH is currently waiting for the Saudi government to announce the quota of Malaysian pilgrims allowed to perform the haj for this season.

On April 9, the Saudi Haj and Umrah Ministry announced the total haj pilgrims for the season of 1443 Hijrah/2022 AD was limited to a million local and international pilgrims.

The ministry stated that the number of international pilgrims this year would follow the allocated quota for each country taking into consideration compliance of all healthcare criteria.

The criteria include pilgrims need to be under 65 and have completed their primer Covid-19 vaccination as approved by the Saudi Health Ministry and pilgrims needed to submit a negative Covid PCR test taken within 72 hours before departure.

Saudi Arabia allowed only 60,000 domestic pilgrims, both Saudi nationals and foreigners in the country, to perform the haj last year.

— Bernama

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