A parliamentary panel on Tuesday directed the ministry of religious affairs not to allocate Hajj quota to 19 private tour operators till their credentials were verified. These companies were found to have been rewarded with preferential treatment.
The National Assembly sub-committee on religious affairs is probing cases of the allotment of Hajj quota to bogus operators. The ministry has been asked to submit a report by May 20.
“The ministry had already been defamed and this time it should not happen again,” said Shagufta Jumani of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Jumani was minister of state when the Hajj corruption scandal made headlines in 2011.
As many as 1,500 private tour operators filed complaints earlier that they were not awarded marks that reflect their credentials; the marks determine the allocation of Hajj quotas and judge service standards.
During the sub-committee’s last meeting, members sought a report of the 1,500 reassessment cases from the chartered accountant firms after it was learned that Top Care Hajj & Umrah Services (pvt) Limited from Multan was awarded 20 out of 15 marks in one category in order to place the firm on the merit list. Documents available with The Express Tribune reveal that the evaluation was carried out by M Yousaf Adil Saleem & Co.
Top Care Hajj & Umrah Service was not the only company given such treatment; four operators including Evershine Travels (pvt) Limited, Carvan Gojra Hajj and Umrah, Al-Khalid Hajj and Umrah Services (pvt) Limited and Al-Qaswa Hajj and Umrah Services (pvt) Limited received similar favours.
The ministry submitted details of the CA firms that conducted the evaluations to the sub-committee. The firms have been asked to submit their replies regarding the evaluation process.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Religious Affairs Secretary Sikandar Ismail Khan informed the sub-committee about the ministry’s arrangements for this year’s Hajj. Khan said 1,26,634 applications have been received this year for the annual pilgrimage, as compared to 84,000 applications last year.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2014.
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