PETALING JAYA: The government has been urged to look at the possibility of having targeted subsidies for pilgrims performing the haj and not applied to every pilgrim.
In making the call, Parti Bangsa Malaysia information chief Zakaria Abdul Hamid said in a statement today that while the party welcomed the noble efforts by the government in offering the subsidies, it should be only given to those in the B40 group and those who need it.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Idris Ahmad had earlier said the government will continue providing subsidies for pilgrims performing the haj this year.
However, he said the government had yet to decide on the amount of subsidy to be given to haj pilgrims.
Idris said he would discuss with Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) on the cost of performing the pilgrimage for Muassasah haj pilgrims, before presenting it to the Cabinet, which would then make the final decision.
TH, in a statement, had said the cost of performing haj for Muassasah pilgrims this year was expected to increase to more than RM25,000 per person, following the hike in taxes and new service charges imposed by the Saudi Arabian government.
It said this was a 12 per cent increase in cost for Muassasah pilgrims compared with RM22,900 in 2019, taking into account the hike in Value-added Tax (VAT) from five per cent to 15 per cent and some additional service charges.
TH has maintained the haj payment rate of RM9,980 for the past 13 years even though the cost of performing the pilgrimage has increased every year.
"If TH maintains the rate at RM9,980 for each pilgrim, this means each subsidy would cost the government RM15,020 which adds up to a huge amount.
"In view of this, if a pilgrim is from the T20 or M40 groups and able to afford the fees, then they should pay for it themselves and not rely on government subsidies," said Zakaria.
He said targeted subsidies would surely help reduce the large responsibilities borne by the government and Tabung Haji to help pilgrims perform the haj.