The Hajj Committee shall consist of five members appointed by the Minister in charge. This Committee takes the overall responsibility of ensuring that all the services related to enabling Sri Lankan Hajj pilgrims are satisfactorily managed. However the Director of the Department of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs shall automatically become a member of the Hajj committee.
The key aspects of the Hajj Committee are given below:
- The term of office of the committee shall be one year.
- The Minister in charge shall replace any position that becomes vacant in the Hajj Committee
- A Hajj Committee member can submit his resignation from the position by giving one month notice to the Chairman of the Hajj Committee and Minister in charge.
- The Hajj Committee shall negotiate with the Government of KSA to negotiate a reasonable quota for pilgrims for Sri Lanka
- The Committee to liaise with all related authorities (Muassasa United Agencies, etc.) to ensure that the full service be given for the fee charged from every pilgrim, especially with regard to timely transportation facilities and Mina accommodation
- Free Movement Pass (FMP) known as “Bessa” is privileged visas that KSA issues to Sri Lanka. Every Tour Operator with a minimum of 45 pilgrims would be given 1 FMP. For every additional 45 pilgrims that is allocated to the Tour Operator he would receive an additional FMP e.g., for 45 visas, 1 FMP; for 90 visas, 2 FMPs; for 135 visas, 3 FMP, etc. However, the Committee shall have a discretion in allocating additional FMP’s where necessary.The balance FMP known as (Bessa) to be issued to medical and administrative volunteers. These persons would be picked by the Hajj Committee on an agreed criteria.
- The committee shall evaluate the Hajj Tour Operators and certify those agents they see fit to carry out the task suitably
For this purpose the Hajj Committee shall appoint a special independent panel to evaluate the Hajj Tour Operators based on the pre-determined criteria. Post this exercise the panel should share their recommendations to the Hajj Committee for final decision.
- To negotiate ticket prices with the airline for the Hajj season in order to reduce the cost for the pilgrims
Quality Control of Hajj Tour Operators
- Hajj Committee to ensure that Religious Guide training sessions are offered by a recognized Muslim religious institution.
This would be an entry qualification for the Mowlavi for a group.
- MRCA to collect a copy of the agreement that each Tour Operator has to sign with each pilgrim they are taking assuring them of at least minimum satisfactory service levels
- To ensure satisfactory services are rendered by the Tour Operators in KSA the MRCA sends several officials during the pilgrimage period to observe and assess the service standards of the Agents. They would be speaking to the pilgrims too.
At the time of issuing the visa, MRCA would inform the pilgrims about their inspection service and the hotline to contact them in cases of emergency.
- The Penalties that may be imposed on an errand Hajj Tour Operator include:
- Warning/severe warning
- Any other recommended by the inquiry board
- The Hajj Committee shall also appoint an independent panel under the patronage of a retired Judge to conduct investigations on Hajj Tour Operators who have been charged with complaints after the journey. The panel’s judgment post sufficient examination of the facts and incidents would be made to the Hajj Committee for final decision making. The recommendations would include the following
- Judgment on the offense – valid or invalid
- Gravity of the offence
- Consequential penalty based on the nature of the offence
- The MRCA would randomly select 5 unrelated pilgrims from each Tour Operator and request them to share written feedback about the services of the Tour Operator.
- Additionally the Hajj Committee shall call for feedback from pilgrims a month after the completion of Hajj in order to evaluate the services rendered by the Operators
- Based on the panel’s recommendation the committee shall take stern action on the errant Operators. The penalties range from warning, monetary penalty, suspension and cancellation.
- Any other recommended by the inquiry board
- The Hajj Committee will notify the Tour Operator about the penalty and execute the same within three months from completion of Hajj.
- The Tour Operators who have been summoned for disciplinary steps and against whom a penalty has been imposed has the right to make an appeal to the Hajj Committee, whose decision thereon shall be final.
Management of Fee Income/. Finance
- Each Tour Operator is required to pay a minimum of Rs2, 000 per pilgrim to as registration fees to bear the administrative expenditure and provision of other amenities.
- Post pilgrimage, all claims and dues would be settled using this fee.
- The registration fees, donations and other income that would be collected by the Hajj committee would be maintained in a state Departmental bank account called Hajj Account.
- The committee would be fully responsible for the securement and deployment of the fund for the establishing and improving the services for the pilgrims.
- Some parts of any residual funds may be used for needy community projects
- The committee will commission an annual audit of all accounts once a year
- All pilgrims to be provided with meals and refreshments in Sri Lanka and KSA airports
- All food served to pilgrims by the operators have to be supervised by the Hajj Committee team.
- The Committee shall set up representative offices in the main pilgrimage cities, e.g., Mecca, Madina, etc. with the help of the Consulate (in Jeddah) and give publicity to its locations.Volunteers would be taken from the KSA to undertake this service during the pilgrimage
- The Committee shall form a Medical Mission. The Medical mission will leave 2-3 days prior to the first batch of Sri Lanka pilgrims and return along with the last batch of pilgrims.
- To ensure that all places of lodging for Sri Lankan pilgrims must carry the Sri Lankan flag, i.e., Mecca, Medina, Arafat, Minna and Musthalifa.
- Transportation – The Hajj committee to liaise with the KSA, Hajj authorities, i.e., Muassasa United Agencies(Br. Adnaan Ameen Khaaatib), etc. to insist in offering a full service, especially on Transportation and Mina accommodation
- To set up a Medical Mission which is closer to the Haram, where many Sri Lankan pilgrims can have access to their services
Hajj Committee members: