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Senate Recommends N200/$ Exchange Rate For Pilgrims

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The senate has asked the federal government to give dollar to the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) at an exchange rate of N200 to a dollar.

This recommendation was made by the committee on foreign affairs.

The committee said the concession will bring pilgrimage cost to a bearable level for interested parties. In a motion moved on June 7, the senate had urged the federal government to review the 2017 Hajj fee.

Monsurat Sunmonu, a lawmaker, advised the federal government to hold discussions with the Saudi government to review the 50-50 carriage of pilgrims between Nigeria and Saudi Arabian airlines.

“This is with a view to providing opportunities for more indigenous Nigerian airlines to participate in the hajj operations. This will give Nigeria varieties in choosing the air carrier,” she said.

“The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria should expedite action on the establishment of Hajj Savings Schemes in compliance with section 7(1 and 2) of the NAHCON act.

“The Nigerian government and its economic team must do everything possible to improve on the Nigerian monetary policy which would expectedly guarantee a long-time stable relationship of the Naira with other currencies.”

Sunmonu said 98% of the entire hajj operations are dollar-denominated and only two percent is carried out in naira.

In his remarks, Bukola Saraki, senate president, said “we passed the 2017-2019 medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) and based on it, we have passed what should be the exchange rate which is N305 to a dollar.

“We should make laws that are truly going to guide our people because we have MTEF which says the exchange is N305. If with passing MTEF nobody should be given N200, but businessmen are getting N200, then, definitely pilgrims deserve N200 as well.”

Saraki said the senate must put an end to the money-making venture because pilgrimage was a religious activity and should not be for money-making.

In 2016, there was controversy as to whether the Central Bank of Nigeria and the federal government subsidised forex for pilgrims after the CBN released a circular showing that 65,167 pilgrims got forex at N197 to a dollar, which was against the foreign exchange policy at that time.

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