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ISLAMABAD: The audit department is of the view that collection, retention and utilisation of service charges without any approved provision in the Hajj Policy is unauthorised. It recommends that the amount so collected be refunded or regularised.

The objection is part of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony’s Audit Report 2019-20, which was presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in its last meeting.

The ministry was asked to come up with relevant documents in the next meeting.

The ministry apprised that the Hajj Policy and Plan for the Hajj 2018 was issued vide Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony after having been approved in the federal cabinet meeting held on December 26, 2017.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs collected Rs1.6 billion as service charges at the rate of Rs4,000 from each successful applicant and transferred it to HBL account opened for maintenance of pilgrim’s welfare fund.

The audit observed that there was no provision in the Hajj Policy 2018 for the collection of service charges from the pilgrims.

It is stated that as per Hajj Policy, the Hajj package from North shall be Rs280,000 and from South Rs270,000, and if there is any additional expenditure that shall be borne by the government. The cabinet on December 26, 2017, approved the summary for Hajj Policy and Plan 2018.

There was additional expenditure of Rs4.5 billion which was born by the government.

The ministry received at Rs3,500 per Hajj from the government Hajj scheme Hujjaj and at Rs4,000 from private Hajj Scheme.

The Quota for Hajj 2017 and 2018 was 179,210 and 184,210 which was distributed in 60:40 ratios among government and private schemes.

The pilgrims’ welfare fund is not a revolving fund but it is to be used on the following welfare activities of the pilgrims and all activities are being made in accordance with rules duly approved by the Finance Division.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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