Hajj savings scheme to cushion effect of Saudi Arabia’s VAT hike, says NAHCON
The National Hajj Commission (NAHCON’s) has been traversing the country to show support for Hajj Savings Scheme and Hajj Training Institute. The Commission is pivoting a strategy that will enable intending pilgrims plan for Hajj through gradual savings.
The Chief Executive Officer, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, explained that Nigeria has not been able to utilize it 95,000 hajj allocations due to the escalating hajj fare that is unavoidably hinged on the dollar exchange rate. He expressed worries that COVID-19 would also worsen the situation.
“This gloomy reality is foreseeable from Saudi Arabia’s triple VAT hike from five percent to 15 percent. The alarm is also loud from extra COVID-19 measures that will definitely be put in place for sake of safe Hajj. Besides, the present dollar exchange rate has killed the option of reducing Hajj fare unless a total reversal occurs.
“To make matters worse, NAHCON has set a path for its financial autonomy and there is no going back. The commission understands the financial burden already on the federal government, therefore is determined not to add to it. This self-reliance was obtained 100 percent in the last Hajj where NAHCON ran its offshore assignment solely without the government sinking one Naira into the operation”.
“With these pointers, NAHCON’s strategy in mitigating further dwindling of hujjaj numbers from Nigeria is to make hajj affordable to all, regardless of one’s financial status. Thus the Commission’s drive to make the Hajj Savings Scheme a reality.
“With the scheme, self sponsorship is a given, financial autonomy is a done deal while affordability of the fare arises from gradual deposits albeit investment that will yield profit that will hopefully reduce the amount that will be needed to complete one’s hajj fare. The practice has yielded fruits in Malaysia and other countries; with their support and blessings, it will not be different in Nigeria,” he stated.
The Emir of Muri, Alhaji Abbas Njidda Tafida, said that the government has no business sponsoring Nigerians for pilgrimage. He condemned people who wait for the government to dish out hajj seats to them in order to discharge a religious obligation. The monarch advised NAHCON to promote skills acquisition with the same energy.