Jakarta, IO – Something does not sit right with the plan to raise the 2023 Hajj fee. The Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) proposes a 74% increase, from last year’s IDR 39.8 million to IDR 69.1 million this year. This increase makes no sense, particularly when the public is currently facing gruesome challenges, such as skyrocketing living costs, the threat of job loss and the 2023 economic recession.
It is as if the officials in charge of the Hajj pilgrimage are unaware of the people’s suffering, which led us to write: Why make it complicated for an act of worship but expedite foreign investors easily?
Seven confusions can be identified in the narrative of the Hajj cost increase made by MoRA and the Hajj Financial Management (BPKH) in 2023:
First, the Indonesian Hajj Pilgrims have not experienced a significant cost increase since 2014. The average increase in Hajj cost was only 0.83% in the 2014-2019 period. The cost increase during Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut’s tenure caused the average rise to leap to 43.35%. The biggest is in 2023, at more than 73%. This increase raises the question of whether MoRA is on the people’s side, if its only ability is to increase the Hajj cost annually.
Second, the BPKH, as the Hajj financial management, does not seem to work effectively. If the Hajj financial management were effective, the Hajj pilgrims who had paid IDR 25 million for Hajj registration should receive the benefit of their money after 20 years, that is IDR 168.2 million (assuming an investment rate of return of 10% per year).
With IDR 168.2 million, the Hajj pilgrims should not have to pay in more money. In fact, their initial payment can help other pilgrims to go for Hajj. Keep in mind that MoRA calculated the total cost of the 2023 Hajj to be IDR 98.8 million.
Third, the Hajj funds increase every year. At the end of 2022, the Hajj funds were around IDR 167 trillion. The BPKH reported that the value of the benefit from the Hajj funds was only IDR 9 trillion.
It means that the BPKH’s rate of return on investment is meager, only 5.4%. This is why in 2027, the value of the benefit will run out and eventually begin to erode the Hajj funds. BPKH’s low return on investment was the result of alleged mismanagement of Hajj funds.
The BPKH was somewhat negligent by investing 70% of IDR 167 trillion, or around IDR 116.9 trillion, in SBSN, the national sharia securities issued by the Finance Ministry to finance the State Budget, including infrastructure projects with a fixed yield of 5.95% per year.
In addition to SBSN, the BPKH also invests in the Indonesian Hajj Fund Sukuk, a sharia banking product and direct investment placement, whose return is actually quite significant. However, due to the meager amount, 30% of the managed funds, it does not significantly add to the value of the benefit of the Hajj pilgrimage.