Shakoor vows to take up Hajj matters with Saudis

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Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Mufti Abdul Shakoor on Saturday said Hajj Ministry would take up all Hajj related matters with Saudi Authorities in consultation with 65 ministers of Muslim countries.

He said the work on the Hajj quota for the members and workers of Lahore Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) is well underway. He was speaking at a meeting at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

LCCI President Kashif Anwar shed light on various issues being faced by the Hajj and Umrah operators while Senior Vice President Chaudhry Zafar Mahmood, Chairman Evacuee Trust Property Board Habib-ur-Rehman Gilani and Convener LCCI Standing Committee Abdul Jabar Anjum also spoke on the occasion. The federal minister said that the ministry will find a way soon for the Hajj and Umrah quota system for LCCI members and staff. He said that Islamic economic system is based on the welfare of all humanity.

He said that the right way is also worship. He said that the ranks of righteous businessmen are high in Islam. He said that private Hajj and Umrah operators are facing many problems due to currency fluctuation. Last year, the price of Rial went up by Rs3 in a short period of only twenty days after announcing the package.

He said that in the previous years, Rs4 to five had also been witnessed which is impossible for any private organisation to bear. He said that the private Hajj and Umrah operators have requested that the Ministry of Finance should get an approval for them to open a foreign currency account to keep Dollars and Rials.

This will not only reduce the burden on the State Bank of Pakistan but will also not affect the tour operators due to currency fluctuation. If it is not possible, private Hajj and Umrah Tour operators should be given the facility to block Dollars according to their packages so that they are not affected by the rupee devaluation. The LCCI President said that the monitoring system in Saudi Arabia should be developed in a modern way and only those people should be made part of the monitoring team who understand the Hajj system. The people, who have negative thoughts against the tour operators, should not be appointed to this important duty.

He said that in 2020, Federal Board Revenue had exempted Hajj and Umrah operators from Turnover Tax but now this exemption has been withdrawn although these companies do not fall under turnover tax. This exemption should be restored. He said that imposition of fixed tax can also be considered. Kashif Anwar said that there is a dire need to revamp the system of monitoring of private Hajj organizers. Apart from this, while fixing the package of the private Hajj scheme, other expenses including the fare of airlines must be kept in mind so that there is no injustice to any party.