ISLAMABAD: Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on Wednesday endorsed a suggestion to cut the quota of private Hajj Group Organizers (HGOs) and increase the share of government from next year so that maximum number of intending pilgrims could be sent to Saudi Arabia for performing the religious obligation at minimum expense.
“This is a good suggestion to increase the government’s share and reduce HGO’s quota as it will help send more pilgrims at minimum expense,” he gave these remarks on the proposal of Rohail Asghar during the question-hour.
Minister of State for Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony Pir Muhammad Amin Ul Hasnat Shah said the ministry would try to slash the quota of private operators in the Hajj policy-2016 for the purpose.
Under the existing policy, he said, both the government and HGOs were being given 50 per cent share each every year for sending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, adding that the quota was awarded to the private sector in 2005.
He said the government was making all-out efforts to extend maximum facilities to the intending pilgrims and bring the hajj expenses at lowest level. So far, the ministry has managed to bring the expenses from around Rs.3,25,000 to around Rs2, 55,000 under the government scheme for each pilgrim, he added.
To a supplementary question, Pir Amin said the ministry has set up a cell to address complaints of the intending pilgrims in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia about HGOs.
Last year, he said, the cell had imposed fine amounting to Rs 23 million on some private operators for not providing agreed facilities to pilgrims during the pilgrimage.
He said private tour operators were working under the Service Provider Agreement (SPA), signed between the government and the Company. HGOs are bound to offer two packages ‘Economy and Executive’ to hujjaj, he added.