Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia's Hajj Fund Management Agency (BPKH) distributed over SAR 159 million (US$40.96 million) Saudi riyal banknotes to cover the living cost of over 200 thousand Hajj pilgrims departing for Saudi Arabia during this year's Hajj season.

"We hope it will be useful for all Indonesian pilgrims' comfort, safety, and smoothness while performing their Hajj rituals," BPKH executive board official Sulistyowati noted as per her statement received here on Saturday.

She explained that 750 riyals (US$199) in cash would be disbursed to each of the 213,320 Hajj pilgrims under the regular program at their final embarkation or the transit point before their embarkation.

Only Hajj pilgrims under the regular program will receive the riyal cash, she stated.

"The (cash for meeting the) living cost will be distributed to Hajj pilgrims according to the Religious Affairs Ministry schedule, which is before the departure of the first Hajj flight group on May 12, 2024," the agency official stated.

She said the BPKH is legally obliged to provide and manage Hajj operational funds equal to two folds the total Hajj management cost in one year as well as to procure the riyal banknotes for living costs allowance in Saudi Arabia.

While finalizing the Hajj cost borne by individual pilgrims for this year's Hajj season, the government and the parliament had considered the cost of living component of pilgrims during their stay in the Holy Land.

Sulistyowati stated that the government and the parliament agreed on covering the living cost of pilgrims, regional Hajj officers, and Hajj guide groups in Saudi riyal banknotes.

The agency is collaborating with state-owned Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) to procure the banknotes, the official remarked.

Meanwhile, the Religious Affairs Ministry's Director of Hajj Fund Management and Integrated Hajj Information System, Ramadhan Harisman, reiterated the government's readiness to organize this year's Hajj by providing riyal banknotes for pilgrims.

"The need for banknotes is an inevitability. The (money to cover the) living cost is handed over by pilgrims when they pay off their Hajj fees and will be returned by them in cash at their embarkation point," Harisman stated.

"We also want to realize safety and comfort for Hajj pilgrims by ensuring they hold cash money," he added.

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Translator: Asep Firmansyah, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Tia Mutiasari
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