Pilgrims Lose Hope as Gov’t Plans to Double Hajj Costs

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Jakarta. The government’s recent proposal of doubling the 2023 hajj costs has sparked concerns among pilgrims, some even willing to give up on their dreams if the price hike plan proceeds.

Many pilgrims are shaking their heads at the government’s plan to raise this year’s hajj costs for each person to Rp 69.1 million ($4,605) — double the amount that one had to pay in 2022.

Aziz bin Ria, a pilgrim from South Sulawesi, recently told Beritasatu that he already had to postpone his dream of performing hajj thrice during his 13 years of waiting.

“In 2020-2021, I had to cancel my pilgrimage because of the Covid-19 pandemic. I then joined the 2022 departure batch, but then had to be moved to the backup batch, which then got canceled,” Aziz said on Monday.

He said he had completed all requirements, including getting a Covid-19 jab and a medical check-up, but he is still on the waiting list. Aziz said that he would withdraw his hajj deposit which he had already paid off three years ago. Instead, he would use the money to perform umrah — the shorter version of the annual hajj pilgrimage.

“Because I can’t pay off the hajj cost hikes for 2023,” Aziz added.

Another pilgrim Nisdah called for the government to not go forward with the plan.

“The price did not increase for last year’s hajj pilgrims. But in 2023, we are seeing almost a hundred-percent increase despite Saudi Arabia lowering the hajj package prices,” Nisdah said.

Nisdah told Beritasatu that she would also withdraw her hajj funds —which she had also already paid off three years ago— if the government decides to raise the costs.

Too High

The Religious Affairs Ministry recently proposed that the average hajj costs per person would total Rp 98.89 million this year. A person would need to pay Rp 69.1 million out of their own pockets, while the remaining 30 percent or Rp 29.7 million would come from the return of funds managed by the Hajj Fund Management Agency (BKPH). Last year, a person only had to pay Rp 39.8 million to go on hajj.

Muslim organization Muhammadiyah found that while making price hikes is inevitable, doubling the hajj costs may be too much for the pilgrims.

“As time goes on, price hikes will become inevitable. Subsidies from the government will slowly get smaller. But the price hike that the religious affairs minister has proposed is perhaps too high,” Abdul Mu'ti, the general secretary at the central executive board of Muhammadiyah, told Beritasatu on Monday.

According to Mu’ti, the government should raise the subsidy to 50 percent to bring down the 2023 hajj costs. Any costs not directly related to hajj should also be lowered.

House of Representatives member Bukhori Yusuf said that the government should have increased the costs in phases, starting with the first deposit. The government should also come up with a roadmap that details the 70:30 split over the next few years ahead.

“The BPKH must be able to increase the returns of the Rp 167 trillion-worth managed funds collected from 5.3 million hajj pilgrims,” Bukhori said.

It would also be best that the hajj pilgrims this year would only need to pay Rp 50 million, Bukhori said.


Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/pilgrims-lose-hope-as-govt-plans-to-double-hajj-costs