Fri, 06 Jun 2003

BANDUNG: Minister of Religious Affairs Said Agiel Munawar said on Thursday that the government would reduce next year's haj pilgrimage fund (ONH) to US$2,457 from a previous $2,777.

"The ministry's special team is working on the ONH before setting the fixed price," he said, adding that the issue would be discussed with legislators from the House of Representatives Commission V in a hearing on June 11.

"The Saudi Arabian government just issued a regulation saying that haj pilgrims are not allowed to cook in Madinah to avoid accidental fires during the pilgrimage," he said, adding that the ministry plans to provide meals for the haj pilgrims.

The ministry has proposed that travel agencies offering haj pilgrimage packages must also provide boarding passes for the pilgrims to ensure that the pilgrims have return tickets.

"Starting next year, Garuda Indonesia will land in Madinah," Said Agiel said. -- JP