CSO asks NAHCON, States to announce BTA for intending pilgrims

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Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR) has asked the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and the States’ Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards and Agencies to announce the Basic Traveling Allowance (BTA) for Hajj 2024 intending pilgrims now.

IHR said it has become necessary to draw the attention of NAHCON and state Hajj agencies that the 2024 Hajj fare they announced so far did not indicate the amount that will be given to intending pilgrims as BTA, contrary to usual practices over the years.

This was contained in a statement signed by the national coordinator of the group, Ibrahim Muhammed, and made available to newsmen on Monday.

The BTA, IHR said, is an allowance of foreign currency that a Nigerian citizen, in this case, the pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, is allowed to draw from a Nigerian bank when traveling abroad. It’s a part of the country’s foreign exchange controls, and such money is added to the Hajj fare components.

“Traditionally, the announcement of Hajj fare by NAHCON always comes with a provision of Basic Traveling Allowance for each intending pilgrim. This is meant to allow pilgrims to prepare their minds on how much they will receive and make their financial plans accordingly.

“For example, the 2023 Hajj pilgrims paid an average of N2.9m inclusive of $800 Basic Travel Allowance. Hajj fare computations consist of local and foreign service components with Basic Traveling Allowance for pilgrims.

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“However, the previous board of NAHCON later slashed the 2023 Hajj BTA to $700 owing to what they described as differentials in airfare tickets. This year’s Hajj fare was announced without stating how much is the BTA even when additional Hajj fare was announced,” IHR said.

The group said the BTA is given to pilgrims on the day of their departure to Saudi Arabia as pocket expense funds to enable pilgrims to take care of certain financial needs while in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The CSO added that “it is strange that the two Hajj fares announced so far by NAHCON have not announced provisions for BTA for intending pilgrims even after another announcement on the increment of the fare from N4.899 to N6.617”.

“We are calling on NAHCON and States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Agencies to immediately announce how much is the 2024 Hajj BTA to intending pilgrims,” IHR said.

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