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Govt’s hajj draw scheme not transparent: MPs

Govt’s hajj draw scheme not transparent: MPs

May 06, 2017 - 19:50

KABUL (Pajhwok): A number of Wolesi Jirga or lower house members on Saturday criticized the hajj quota given to lawmakers and government officials, saying the lottery system lacked transparency.

According to the Ministry of Hajj and Islamic Affairs (MoHIA), each minister can take five people with him/her to perform the annual pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia on government’s expense.

Similar, each parliament member can take three people and each provincial council one for offering the hajj.

There are a total of 809 members of parliament and provincial councils and 25 Cabinet ministers and the people they can introduce for going with them for the hajj is nearly 1,650. They don’t need to take part in the hajj draw.

But ordinary people have to take part in the lottery and pay first installment of money before being selected.

A number of Wolesi Jirga members criticized giving hajj privileges to parliament members and ministers.

Ramazan Bashardost, a lawmaker from Kabul, told today’s session in the presence of Hajj and Islamic Affairs Minister and Aryana Airlines officials that the quota given to lawmakers and senators was against the rules.

He said he never used government’s Hajj quota offered to him. A number of officials in the Supreme Court and some political leaders enjoyed the privilege, he added, without going into details.

“We hope to avoid discrimination and this privilege, we should let ordinary people perform hajj,” he said.

Bashardost said some people had also complained about the lack of transparency in the Hajj applicants’ lottery.

Sayed Ikramuddin Masumi, another lawmaker, also said he found last year that each government official took 10 to 20 members of their families for Hajj performance on government’s expenses

 “All the expenses on 800 senior government officials including parliament members are paid from the money of poor people of Afghanistan. MoHIA and these officials should payback the amount and not commit sins in front of Kaaba,” he said.

The MoHIA also said the cost of Hajj privileges offered to senior officials was paid by the government.

Some lawmakers said the Saudi government should increase the hajj quota for the Afghan people and give priority to fist timer pilgrims.

MoHIA deputy minister, Dayee-ul-Haq Abid, in response to lawmakers’ questions, said senior government officials had been availing the hajj quota from the past and provincial councils were also given the opportunity this year.

He said the lottery process for hajj applicants had been transparent as representatives of different organizations oversaw it.

Abid said the number of Afghans to be airlifted to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage had been increased to 30,000 for this year’s ritual against the previous 24,000.