May 25, 2024, 8:33 pm

Hajj Management: Govt officials jostle to go to Saudi Arabia at public expense

  • Update Time : Tuesday, May 7, 2024
  • 9 Time View
Photo: Collected

Desk Report:
Government officials and staffers are jostling to go to Saudi Arabia as members of the government Hajj management committee at the public expense. Some of them are bringing recommendation letters from influential persons, some are getting them called, while some are going to the religious affairs ministry themselves for lobbying to enlist their names in the list, much to the irk of the ministry officials. The religious affairs ministry sources said over 4,000 government employees have applied to go to Saudi Arabia as members of the Hajj management committee. From officials of different ministries and departments of the government, police and administration officials, intelligence officials, to personal assistants of politicians and gunmen of secretaries all joined the bandwagon to go to Saudi Arabia. Religious affairs ministry said the government spends half a million taka on average to send a member of the Hajj management team. Members of the team are entitled to provide assistance to the pilgrims. Allegations are there that many government officials go to Saudi Arabia as members of the management team but they spend time shopping and wandering around. Some of the employees have to be busy serving the officials of their ministries, departments and organisations instead of the pilgrims.
Meanwhile, there are many applicants who have nothing to do with Hajj management activities. Yet they are trying to go to Saudi Arabia at government expense.
The religious affairs ministry secretary Md A Hamid Jomaddar told that only those who are relevant with the Hajj activities are being sent to Saudi Arabia this time. There is no scope to send outsiders who have nothing to do with Hajj activities. The secretary also added that the members of the government Hajj management team would be halved this year.
Who wants to go?
Some names of interested applicants were found out during talks with officials of the religious affairs ministry. One of them is deputy speaker Shamsul Haque Tuku’s personal officer Nurul Amin.
Shamsul Haque sent a letter from Nurul on the official pad of the parliament. He requested the ministry to include his personal officer Nurul in the technical team. Information and communication technology department’s administrative officer Md Shoriful Islam also wants to go to Saudi Arabia at government expense as a member of the administrative team. He told that he applied this year as many officials go to Saudi Arabia as members of the Hajj management team.
Asked why he applied despite having no relevance with the Hajj management activities, Shoriful said, “Serving the Hajj pilgrims is a noble deed. I wanted to partake in this sacred work.”
The ministry sources said, a total of 300 people in three categories will be sent to Saudi Arabia as members of the Hajj management team this year. Among them, there will be 55 people in the administrative team, 75 people in the administrative support team, and 170 people in the technical team including physicians. The ministry has issued a Government Order (GO) in this end. However, about 600 people went to Saudi Arabia in these three categories last year. Now this number has been reduced to half. Still, many are lobbying till the last moment, so that their names are included in the list. The religious affairs ministry secretary expressed his displeasure over the matter in a eeting at the secretariat last Saturday. According to sources, the secretary said in the meeting that many people are still calling him to enter their names. The secretary said he received more than a thousand calls and can’t even do his routine work due to interruption.
An official of the ministry told on condition of anonymity that many high officials who become members of the Hajj management team do not do their designated works. The staffers mainly provide service to the Hajj pilgrims.
The final list of the Hajj management team includes officers and employees of the president’s office, prime minister’s office, various ministries, parliament secretariat, various commissions, police, intelligence agencies, passport directorate, civil aviation authority and National Board of Revenue (NBR).
An official of the ministry told on condition of anonymity that many high officials who become members of the Hajj management team do not do their designated works. The staffers mainly provide service to the Hajj pilgrims.
He said every year officials from important departments, ministries and organisations become members of the Hajj management team. It has now turned into an indirect quota system.
What does the Hajj management team do
The GO specifies the works of the members of the Hajj management team. The team of physicians is entrusted with providing treatment to hajis while the others are designated to provide other specific services.
A government order said the members are to ensure services to the hajis all the time. They are supposed to don specific clothing and should be ready to work whenever necessary. It can be mentioned that those who will go to Saudi Arabia as part of the management team won’t be able to perform hajj as per the decision of the country.
Bangladesh Hajj office in Saudi Arabia served show cause notices to some officials for wandering about

without any permission. Moreover, the prime minister’s office was also irked by the visit of a large retinue of officials at the government expense. Later, a letter was sent from the PMO to the religious affairs ministry secretary. The letter asked the secretary to send only the ministry’s own manpower and those with experience with Hajj management as part of the team.
A retired government official who performed Hajj under the government management, on condition of anonymity, told that the officials of the management team are hard to be found during the Hajj
A retired government official who performed Hajj under the government management, on condition of anonymity, told that the officials of the management team are hard to be found during the Hajj.
It cannot be expected from the high government officials to provide service to the pilgrims. Rather the staffers remain busy serving those high officials who go as part of the management team.
Hajj flight to begin 9 May
The holy Hajj, one of the main pillars of Islam, is likely on 16 June, subject to moon sighting. The first Hajj flight from Dhaka to Saudi Arabia is scheduled for 9 May. The Saudi government approved a quota of 127,198 people from Bangladesh to perform hajj for 2024. Among these, a total of 10,198 can perform the Hajj under government management and the rest under public management. However, this quota was not filled up despite several extensions. Around 35 per cent of the quota remained vacant.
The soaring of cost has been mentioned as the reason for not fulfilling the quota. People who will
perform hajj under the government’s management this year will have to spend a minimum of Tk 587, 390 and Tk 936, 200 for a special package. The package for performing Hajj under private management this year is Tk 589,800.

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