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44,000 pay hajj fees PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Deadline Sunday

Desk Report

About 44,000 prospective pilgrims had submitted hajj fees by Sunday, the deadline for registration this year, falling short of government and private agency expectations.

Hajj officer at the religious affairs ministry Bazlur Rahman Biswas told bdnews24.com that 38,347 people had deposited Tk 20,256 each in muallem fees to perform hajj under private management, and about 6,000 under government management.
 
This year targets were set to send a total of 65,000 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, 15,000 of them under government management.
 
According to ministry figures, the government had expected to manage 10,000 hajj pilgrims last year, but sent only 5,500. The government's estimate of 15,000 this year appears even further off the mark, with only 6,000 prospective pilgrims responding so far.
 
Some 234 private hajj agencies were given the responsibility to manage a total of 50,000 pilgrims this year. But the Hajj Association of Bangladesh has asked for an extension of the muallem fee deadline by one month, as it registered only 38,500 prospective hajj pilgrims up to Sunday.
 
Secretary of the ministry of religious affairs, Muhammad Ataur Rahman told bdnews24.com that even though the expected response was not received, the deadline for depositing fees would not be extended.
 
"Other countries have already sent their list of pilgrims for this year's hajj to the Saudi authorities; Bangladesh has yet to do so," he said.
 
"Under the circumstances, and for proper management of the hajj pilgrims, the government must soon prepare the list and hand it over to Saudi Arabia."
 
The secretary told bdnews24.com Sunday that the government had imposed stricter rules this year, as irregularities in hajj management had occurred in past years.
 
He stressed that the deadline for depositing muallem fees was being strictly imposed as part of the measures to address irregularities and mismanagement.
 
On the proposal by national carrier Biman Bangladesh to increase airfares for hajj pilgrims, against the global backdrop of rising oil prices, he said that they were sticking so far to the earlier fixed fare of Tk 93,150.
 
"The government's decision on this matter will be applied," said the religious affairs secretary.
 
Rahman added that so far the government had taken steps to rent houses in the Muslim holy city for 6,000 hajj pilgrims, and 4,232 houses hade already been rented.
 
But hiring houses by the private agencies had not yet started, he said, adding that the Saudi authorities have imposed strict rules on accommodation for hajj pilgrims.
 
On the less-than-expected number of prospective pilgrims hajj officials said the overall economic condition of the country, the political situation and national elections in December are the main reasons for the drop in numbers

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