Government of Saudi Arabia has introduced Value Added Tax (VAT) on anything intending pilgrims buy in that country, in addition to the capturing of Biometric information of the pilgrims. The measures will take effect from this year, 2018 hajj operations.
These facts were disclosed by the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad when he briefed President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on the 2018 Hajj Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Meeting held in Saudi Arabia.
A statement by the Chief Information Officer of NAHCON, Alhaji Adamu Hassan Abdullahi, on the presentation of the MoU to the President, said that the Executive Chairman of the Commission was accompanied to the Aso Villa by the minister of State for foreign affairs, Mrs. Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim.
The statement said that President Buhari expressed his commitment to the welfare, health and security needs of Nigerian pilgrims while on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, after being informed that Nigeria’s approved quota for Hajj 2018 is 95,000 slots with 75,000 going to State Pilgrims Welfare Boards and Agencies and 20, 000 going to Private Tour Operators.
The NAHCON Chairman was said to have briefed President Buhari also on some of the new policies introduced by the Saudi Arabian Government which included payment of Value Added Tax (VAT) by all consumers of goods and services in Saudi Arabia beginning 1st January, 2018; fixing of May 2018 as the deadline for the conclusion of all Hajj arrangements and the introduction of biometric data capture for all intending pilgrims.
It said that the President expressed concern over the challenges being faced by intending Umrah pilgrims (lesser hajj currently ongoing), even as he said that Nigeria is not against the introduction of Biometrics capture by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but the hardship caused by the non-preparedness of the company appointed to implement the policy in Nigeria.
The statement quoted the President as assuring Nigerian pilgrims of his commitment to address the problem along with its attendant consequences on Hajj and Umrah operations.
Meanwhile, NAHCON has announced that it has embarked on nationwide sensitization and enlightenment Programmes for intending Pilgrims across the Six Geo Political zones of the Country.
It said that the idea is to educate the Pilgrims of the new policies being introduced by the Saudi administration in Hajj management, naming such policies as Value Added Tax, Biometric Data Capture and the introduction of SR20,00 charges for Hajj and Umrah repeat goers.
The sensitization drive will also remind intending pilgrims of the need to conclude payments for the 2018 Hajj on or before March 31st when NAHCON will close payment for the 2018 Hajj season in order to meet up with the Saudi dateline.” [myad]