Amid widespread criticism over the high cost of Hajj packages, the government on Wednesday slightly reduced the cost of the two packages by Tk 11,725.
A notice was issued by the Ministry of Religious Affairs on Wednesday in this regard, and the ministry also extended the registration period for pilgrims till March 27.
The government fixed Tk 6,71,290 as the cost for each pilgrim to perform Hajj under the government packages, reducing it by Tk 11,725 from Tk 6,83,015.
On the other hand, the cost of the package under private Hajj management was reduced to Tk 6,60,893 which previously was Tk 6,72,618.
The government of Saudi Arabia reduced the cost of service for different countries by 413 Saudi Riyals (Tk 11,725), and the government was also able to reduce the cost in the country, reads the notice.
Earlier, on Tuesday, State Minister for Religious Affairs Faridul Haq Khan said, “We requested the Saudi government to lessen the cost of Hajj packages, and an announcement will come on Wednesday in this regard.”
He said the Saudi government increased the cost by around Tk 1 lakh for each pilgrim as they added some new facilities for pilgrims this year.
On February 1, the Ministry of Religious Affairs announced the Hajj package for 2023 in a memorandum. According to the packages, a person has to pay a hefty amount of Tk 6.83 lakh to perform Hajj this year up from Tk 5.22 lakh in 2022.
The increased Hajj cost drew huge criticism as it is higher than the neighbouring countries. Of the entire cost, an amount of Tk 1,97,797 was fixed as airfare for each passenger.
The High Court on March 14 questioned how common people will perform Hajj at the cost of the package set by the government.
It asked, “Why doesn’t the government allocate budgets for the Hajj like other countries in the world?”
A High Court bench of Justice KM Kamrul Kader and Justice Mohammad Ali came up with the observation while hearing a writ petition over revising the Hajj package offered by the government this year.
The HC asked the authorities concerned to take the initiative to cut the Hajj cost following a hearing on the writ petition on March 15.
On March 17, the Ministry of Religious Affairs gave directives to the authorities concerned to rationally reduce the airfare of Biman.
But Biman Bangladesh Airlines Managing Director Shafiul Azim on March 19 said that there is no scope to reduce the fare of Hajj flights this year.