The Hajj Corporation spent MVR 69.3 million on the 2022 Hajj pilgrimage, Islamic Minister Dr. Ahmed Zahir Ali has said.
Responding to inquiries by Maafannu Central MP Ibrahim Rasheed 'Bonde' in writing, the Islamic Minister said only the Maldives Hajj Corporation took pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for Hajj in 2022. According to the corporation, MVR 166,000 was spent per pilgrim, with total expenditure reaching MVR 69,345,77.
In his inquiry, MP Ibrahim Rasheed noted that although the government has formed a Hajj mission to provide assistance to the pilgrims at a huge expense, adequate assistance was not provided to pilgrims. He said pilgrims received more assistance from the staff of the Maldivian Embassy in Saudi Arabia than from the Hajj mission. While the expenditure would be less if the Hajj Mission is established and the arrangements are made through the embassy without sending people from the Maldives, he asked why the government did not choose to go that route.
Responding to the question, the Islamic Minister said that the Hajj Mission provides a wide range of services to the pilgrims. The minister said the Hajj Mission is responsible for dealing with problems faced by pilgrims at the airport, traveling to Mecca, searching for a missing pilgrim, and arranging speedy funerals in the case a pilgrim passes away.
"Therefore, the claims that pilgrims and organizations are not receiving assistance from the Hajj Mission and that services are instead provided by the embassy are untrue," he said.
The minister also noted that representatives were unable to attend meetings in Saudi Arabia regarding the Hajj pilgrimage due to a lack of budget.
"The Hajj Mission should be established as soon as possible, and they must attend various meetings held by Saudi Arabia regarding various Hajj arrangements. However, due to lack of adequate budget for such activities, the Hajj Pilgrim Office is established in Mecca only for the Hajj season," he said.