The Hajj Board says it has absorbed about GH¢13,000 of the 2022 pilgrimage fees for some 2,000 pilgrims who paid their fares in 2020.
This follows concerns by some pilgrims over an earlier agreement that they would not pay additional charges after their initial deposit of GH¢19,500.
The 2020 Hajj was cancelled for international participants due to the coronavirus pandemic, leading to the closure of borders and airlines in a lot of countries.
With plans for the pilgrimage in 2022, the Board asked the pilgrims who paid in 2020 to make a top-up of GH¢7,000 due to exchange rates and other factors.
Speaking to Citi News, a Member of the Hajj Board, Alhaji Ismaela Ibrahim, explained that preparations are far advanced for over 3,000 pilgrims to be airlifted from Ghana and that the top-up is even discounted.
“The question everyone is asking is that, we have an agreement with them, so why are increasing the fees? The GH¢19,000 they paid in 2020 was a calculation of GH¢5.2 to a dollar. Everything we collect here is transferred to Saudi Arabia in dollars, since we cannot use dollars over there.”
“The money given to us by the will-be pilgrims then, there are no activities on it. Some say interest on the investment. That will not be enough but what we have offered to the 2020 pilgrims is that, we have absorbed about GH¢13,000 of what they are supposed to pay for 2022”, he emphasised.
Prior to the journey, pilgrims pay for Hajj services such as accommodation and feeding in Saudi Arabia.
Earlier, the Board announced that monies paid for the 2020 Hajj will be refunded following the cancellation of the pilgrimage.
The Pilgrimage Affairs Office of Ghana (PAOG), in collaboration with Hajj Agents Association, pegged the 2020 Hajj pilgrimage fare at GH¢19,500, an equivalent of $3,500 dollars.
This was after the Office resolved that the fare will remain unchanged from 2019.
PAOG indicated that the fare could have been higher, but the intervention by the government helped to make it affordable for more people to perform the Hajj.