Although the government has reduced the airfare, Bangladeshis will have to spend more this year to perform hajj, mainly due to increases in house rent and other service charges in Saudi Arabia.
This year, the maximum cost for hajj under government management has been fixed at Tk 4,18,500, which is Tk 20,571 more than last year's.
The minimum expense under the arrangement would be Tk 3,44,000, which is Tk 12,641 more than the previous year's.
The minimum expenditure of a pilgrim, who wants to perform hajj under private management, will be Tk 3,44,000. It was Tk 3,32,868 last year.
A cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, at the Prime Minister's Office yesterday approved the draft of Hajj Package-2019.
At a press briefing at the Cabinet Division, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam said around 1,27,198 Bangladeshis would be performing hajj this year.
Around 7,198 pilgrims will go for hajj under government management and the rest under private management, he said.
This year, the hajj is likely to be held on August 10 subject to moon sighting in Saudi Arabia.
The cabinet secretary said the airfare for a pilgrim had been fixed at Tk 1, 28,000, which was Tk 1, 38,191 last year.
But house rent in Saudi Arabia has been increased by Tk 10,043 this year.
He said the Saudi government increased Tk 24,981 for pilgrims who will travel by train and Tk 19,035 for those who will not avail the service during hajj.
All pilgrims must carry machine readable passports, he said, adding that those who performed hajj or got hajj visas in the last three years since 2016 have to pay additional 2,100 Saudi riyals, equivalent to Tk 46,505, for this year's hajj.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Shahadat Hossain Taslim, secretary general of Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (Haab), a platform of private hajj tour operators, said they would announce this year's hajj package by Saturday.
This year, aspirant hajis will have to buy trolley bags on their own like the previous year, Taslim said. In 2017, hajis had to pay Tk 2,500 each to hajj agencies to get the bags.
Apart from the lowest hajj package, every hajj agency will individually declare the maximum cost for a pilgrim under its management.
According to the government's draft hajj policy, a private hajj agency can send maximum 300 and minimum 150 pilgrims from Bangladesh.
The registration of prospective hajis under government management will start on February 14 and the registration under private management on February 17, said the Haab secretary general.
The cabinet secretary said according to the hajj policy, all Umrah hajj pilgrims must meet the requirement of pre-registration, and the agencies must submit the report on passenger arrival and departure to the religious affairs ministry. A guide will be assigned for every 44 pilgrims.
All hajj agencies must send copies of the agreements of pilgrims' accommodation to the ministry before the month of Ramadan. The policy gives the authority to the ministry to appoint Bangladeshi volunteers to take care of the pilgrims.
Under the policy, a pilgrim must be fit both physically and mentally and be economically solvent. All intending pilgrims should pay their house rent, service charges and expenses of catering online.
As per the policy, the government can recruit hajj guides from Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh, and the recruitment should be completed two months ahead of beginning the hajj flights. The Bangladeshi guides must know Arabic and their identities would be verified by the deputy commissioners.