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Taxpayers should not get subsidy for Haj: Govt

Taxpayers should not get subsidy for Haj: Govt

Author: Bhavna Vij
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: August 30, 2002
URL: http://www.indian-express.com/full_story.php?content_id=8507

Note from the Hindu Vivek Kendra:  It would be interesting to see if the secularists support this proposal.

On direction from the Cabinet, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) has sent a package of proposals to ''reduce progressively and eventually eliminate'' Haj subsidy.

These include withdrawing subsidy from those pilgrims who pay income tax, restricting concessions to ''once in the lifetime,'' and raising the basic fare.

Since 1994, pilgrims pay Rs 12,000 while the cost per passenger for the round trip comes to about Rs 35,000. The Ministry, which is the nodal agency for Haj operations, has proposed that the fare be raised to Rs 18,000, the minimum qualifying age be set at 50 and the number of subsidised pilgrims be brought down from 72,000 to 50,000 per year.

Confirming the proposal, Minister for Civil Aviation Shahnawaz Hussain told The Indian Express: ''It was felt that subsidies should be availed of by the genuinely needy, not everybody across the board.''

In addition to the Department of Civil Aviation, representatives of the Central Haj Committee, Ministry of External Affairs and Directorate General of Civil Aviation were also associated with air-charter negotiations. Air India has been making travel arrangements for Haj pilgrims since 1995.

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