ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony on Friday decided to allocate a 50% special quota in the Government Hajj Scheme 2023 for the pilgrims who will pay their dues in US dollars, Geo News reported citing sources.
The news comes amid reports that the cash-strapped nation is facing a severe liquidity crunch as the rupee continues to fluctuate against the dollar which has affected the availability of the greenback.
It should be noted that a shortage of dollars has left banks refusing to issue new letters of credit for importers, hitting an economy already squeezed by soaring inflation.
Earlier, the ministry had decided to reserve a 25% Hajj quota for those who would deposit dues in US dollars but the authorities have been compelled to review its policy as the finance ministry has excused itself from providing $2 billion for the Hajj expenditures, the sources had said.
The officials of the ministry would call on Finance Minister Ishaq Dar soon to persuade him for releasing the amount.
The Hajj Policy 2023 would be sent to the federal cabinet for final approval next week, the sources said, adding that the cabinet is likely to approve the policy in the next 8 to 10 days.
The sources had earlier said that the ministry had increased the Hajj quota for private operators from 40% to 50%, which might be further raised in the wake of a persistent foreign exchange liquidity crunch.
The ministry would charge Rs1.1 million from each pilgrim under the government scheme, but the Hajj expenses might rise to Rs1.3 million in case of further depreciation of the rupee, said the well-placed sources.
The sources further added that the government of Saudi Arabia was increasing the tax rate on Hajj by 18% to 20%.
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