Saudi Arabia imposes levy on frequent Nigerian pilgrims

Saudi Arabian authorities have imposed a compulsory levy equivalent of N163,000 on all prospective Nigerian pilgrims, who have performed Hajj or Umrah in the last two years.

The Saudi Arabian authorities also introduced a five per cent Value Added Tax on all services, excluding food items and medical drugs.

Mr Abdullahi Mukhtar, the Chairman of the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), disclosed that all Prospective Nigerian pilgrims all affected prospective pilgrims would have to pay the compulsory levy.

This the Chairman said the pilgrims are to pay SR2000, an equivalent to N163,000, which was exclusive of the substantive fare for the 2018 Hajj that is yet to be announced by the federal government.

Mukhtar made the disclosure in Sokoto on Saturday at a sensitization campaign organized by the Commission for prospective pilgrims and officials of the Pilgrims Welfare Agencies (PWA), from Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara States.

According to him, the levy was announced by the Saudi Arabian Hajj Ministry and it became fully effective during the 2017 Hajj exercise.

The Chairman, who was represented by the National Commissioner in Charge of Operations, Alhaji Abdullahi Sale, said that the campaign was organized to intimate the nation’s prospective pilgrims.

“This is on the need to ensure the early completion of their hajj fares on or before the end of March 2018, as it would enable the commission and the various PWA, to make early and efficient arrangements.”

He said that the event was also organized to intimate the prospective pilgrims on the introduction of biometric data capturing of all Umrah and Hajj pilgrims by the Saudi Arabian authorities.

He added that three centres have been opened in Kano, Lagos and Abuja, for the data capturing, “although efforts were on by the commission to ensure the increment of the centres.”

The Chairman, Forum of PWA in Nigeria, Alhaji Abubakar Sarkin Fawa Danbo, commended the commission for organizing the event, saying that various PWAs in Nigeria were working round the clock to ensure the success of the 2018 hajj exercise.

Alhaji Muntari Maigona, PWA Chairman Sokoto state, called on the commission to allow the various states pilgrims welfare agencies to deploy medical Doctors and other medical staff to accompany the pilgrims during the hajj exercise.

Maigona further lamented that the existing arrangements on Pilgrims feeding should be improved, while the companies in charged of such gesture should be increased. (NAN)

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