Independent Hajj Reporters, a civil society organisation that monitors and reports hajj has raised alarm over possible high costs of 2018 hajj and therefore called for uniform exchange rate for both Muslim and Christians pilgrims.
In a statement jointly signed by its national coordinator Ibrahim Muhammed and publicity Secretary, Abubakar Mahmoud, it pleaded with federal governments to grants a lower concessionary exchanger rate for both Christians and Muslim pilgrimage.
It said” The 2018 hajj fare may be higher than the 2017 hajj due to the following developments in Saudi Arabia and the current exchange rate of N305/$1. Experts has proved that the rise in 2017 hajj fare was due to the sharp decline in the value of naira from N197/$1 paid by pilgrims in 2016 to 305/$1 in 2017.
Currently, everything being equal as per exchange rate of 2017 and 2018 is concerned with a new developments in Saudi Arabia that will negatively affects 2018 hajj.
“After 2017 hajj, “The cost of electricity supply in Saudi Arabia has been jerked up three times; the price of petrol has been increased by almost 200%, a consumer that used to pay SR200 per month for modest power consumption for three air conditioning units, a few fluorescent tubes, iron, television, and a refrigerator are now paying SR600 per month.”
In addition to the above, Saudi Arabia has introduced 5% VAT on all services. Also, pilgrims who have performed hajj in the last five years and wish to do same in 2018 will have to pay additional SR2, 000 and a new accommodation policy hat will not to allow more than four pilgrims in a room – which will increase the costs of pilgrims accommodation.
The statement further said that “In view of the above development in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia has increased the cost of their 2018 hajj fare by Rp 900,000 ($68), or by 2.85 percent. In Malaysia, Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) Malaysia has said that the cost of 2018 hajj has increased from RM19,550 in 2017 to RM22,450 in 2018 15 per cent increase.”
However, in order to alleviates the burden of hardships on its citizenry, the Malaysia government through Tambung Hajj said it will “subsidize the cost of 2018 hajj fare by RM400 million” so that its pilgrims will pay the same amount they paid in 2017.
This is why we are appealing to Federal Government to consider the option of granting a concessionary exchange rate of N200/$1 in order to brings down the cost of 2018 hajj” the statement added.