Children under 10 years of age allowed to perform Hajj


ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet chaired by Caretaker Prime Minister Anwarul Haq Kakar approved amendments to the Hajj Policy 2024, allowing children under 10 years of age to perform Hajj.

The federal cabinet approved to return the unused sponsorship quotas to the Saudi Arabian government underthe both public and private schemes.

The new Hajj policy introduces a foolproof monitoring system to oversee the financial arrangements of Hajj group organizers in adherence to Saudi government laws.

The cabinet greenlit several crucial decisions that will have far-reaching implications.

In private Hajj schemes, the attendant requirement will be relaxed for individuals over 80 years of age. However, Hajj group organizers will be required to enter into an agreement with pilgrims to hire local helpers during their stay in Saudi Arabia.

This clause must be included in the service provision agreement, and violation may result in fines and blacklisting of the Hajj group organizer.

Additionally, the federal cabinet approved a reduction in the hardship Hajj quota. Fifty per cent of the quota for local assistants will be allocated for Pakistani students studying in local universities in Saudi Arabia, who will serve as welfare staff.

The federal cabinet, in its previous meeting, had constituted a committee to further improve the Hajj Policy 2024. The aforementioned amendments have been made in the Hajj Policy 2024 based on the recommendations of this committee.”

Bilateral Investment Treaties

The federal cabinet gave the nod to negotiations for bilateral investment treaties with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, acting upon the recommendation of the Investment Board.

Tax on windfall profits of banks

On the recommendation of the Federal Board of Revenue, the cabinet approved a 40 per cent tax on windfall profits generated by banks from foreign exchange transactions in 2021 and 2022.

The Finance Act 2023 introduced Section 99D in the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 to enforce this windfall tax.

Trade organizations oversight

The federal cabinet, based on the Ministry of Commerce’s recommendation, decided to establish a committee to hear appeals against orders of trade organizations’ regulators, exemptions, and relaxations in Import Policy Order 2022 and Export Policy Order 2022. The committee will be chaired by the federal minister of commerce, with the federal minister of law and the federal minister of planning as additional members.

Business visa list expansion

The cabinet approved the inclusion of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and the Kyrgyz Republic in the business visa list, following the recommendation of the Federal Ministry of Interior.

ECL changes

On the advice of the Federal Ministry of Interior, the cabinet approved the removal of 18 names from the Exit Control List (ECL) and the addition of nine new names.

Jammu and Kashmir state property budget

The federal cabinet endorsed the Jammu and Kashmir State Property Budget for the fiscal year 2023-24, as recommended by the Federal Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan. The allocated budget for the current year stands at Rs267.590 million.

Ship recycling legislation

The cabinet, on the recommendation of the federal ministry of maritime affairs, approved the signing of the Hong Kong International Convention for the safe and environmentally friendly recycling of ships 2009. This move will pave the way for Pakistan to legislate for ship recycling, train relevant personnel, and ensure the availability of technological equipment for safe disposal of hazardous materials during the process.

PPRA exemption

The cabinet, based on the cabinet secretariat’s recommendation, granted exemption from specific rules of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority Rules, 2004 to the Trading Corporation of Pakistan. This exemption facilitates the purchase of 200,000 metric tons of urea from the international market.

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