CSO seeks clarification on BTA for 2024 Hajj fare

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A civil society organisation, Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR) on Monday asked the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and the various states’ Muslim pilgrims’ welfare boards and agencies to inform all Nigerian intending pilgrims to this year’s Hajj the exact amount they will receive as their Basic Travel Allowance (BTA).

IHR, in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammed, made available to Tribune Online in Abuja, stated that it was necessary to draw the attention of NAHCON and state Hajj agencies to the fact they did not indicate the BTA that would be given to the intending pilgrims from fare announced this year.

This, the organisation, stated was contrary to usual practices over the years.

According to the statement, the BTA was the allowance of foreign currency that a Nigerian citizen, in this case, the pilgrims to Saudi Arabia would be allowed to draw from a Nigerian bank when travelling abroad.

“It’s part of the country’s foreign exchange controls and such money is added to the hajj fare components,” IHR stated.

It added, “Traditionally, the announcement of Hajj fare by NAHCON always comes with a provision of Basic Travelling 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 Travelling Allowance for pilgrims.

“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.”

The CSO informed that each pilgrim would be given their BTA on the day of their departure to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as pocket expense funds to enable them to take care of certain financial needs while in the Kingdom.

“Strangely, 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 state Muslim pilgrims welfare agencies to immediately announce how much is the 2024 hajj BTA to intending pilgrims,” IHR appealed.

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