Indonesia's Hajj funds are not for foreign exchange intervention: MPR

Indonesia's Hajj funds are not for foreign exchange intervention: MPR

Deputy Speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Syarief Hasan. (ANTARA News/Try Reza Essra/wdy)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Deputy Speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Syarief Hasan vehemently disagreed to a discourse on diverting the Indonesian Hajj pilgrims' funds totaling Rp8.7 trillion for the purpose of foreign exchange intervention.

"The government must not disappoint our people any further by channeling the Hajj pilgrims' funds for other needs, including a discourse on their use for Bank Indonesia's foreign exchange intervention," he noted in a statement that ANTARA received here, Wednesday.

Hasan opined that the central bank must utilize its dollar reserve, expected to reach US$127.9 billion, instead of the Hajj pilgrims' funds, for intervening in the foreign exchange market to strengthen the rupiah value against the US dollar.

The MPR deputy speaker expressed his views on the discourse on utilizing the Indonesian Hajj pilgrims' funds for the central bank's foreign exchange intervention following the Indonesian government's decision to cancel the departure of Indonesia's Hajj pilgrims this year.

Hasan fully understood that the government's decision had led to disappointment among several Indonesians eligible for departing for Mecca for this year's Hajj pilgrimage season since they had saved up for it since long.

Several pilgrims had also saved money for tens of years, but owing to the novel coronavirus disease pandemic that severely impacted several countries, including Saudi Arabia, they failed to perform Hajj pilgrimage this year, he pointed out.

Hence, the government must not further escalate the level of public disappointment with the discourse on utilizing their Hajj funds for the central bank's foreign exchange intervention for strengthening the rupiah exchange rate against the US dollar, he remarked.

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The Indonesian government has officially announced its decision to not send Hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government's decision was announced by Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi during a virtual press conference on Hajj pilgrimage on Tuesday.

The Hajj pilgrimage stands cancelled in accordance with Religious Affairs Minister Regulation No. 494 of 2020 as the safety and health of pilgrims must be prioritized, right from their departure to during the course of the pilgrimage and upon their return to the country.

The decision was taken on the basis of a comprehensive study conducted by a team of the ministry and after consultation with the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).

Saudi Arabia is yet to give Hajj access to any country in the world. Hence, the government is left with little time to prepare requisite services and protection for Hajj pilgrims, Razi stated.

As the world's largest Muslim nation, the Saudi Government has frequently offered the highest quota to Indonesia. During this year's Hajj pilgrimage season, Indonesia has been allowed to send 221 thousand pilgrims to Mecca if it is not canceled.

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