Hajj Fund to Be Tapped For Infrastructure Investment
Indonesia’s hajj fund, a pool of cash used to fund the Muslim pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, is often pointed to as the solution to funding woes, with President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo now mulling plans to tap the fund. Jokowi made the comments Monday, August 7, saying the Rp. 50 trillion (US$3.9 billion) would be better utilized in financing sea ports, roads, airports and palm plantations than sitting in bank deposits. “If we invest, say, 90 percent of the [hajj] funds on infrastructure, surely this would also be more profitable than storing the funds in banks,” Jokowi said at the Presidential Palace on Monday during a meeting with the Religious Affairs Ministry Directory General for the Hajj Abdul Jamil. The fund is managed by the Religious Affairs Ministry and includes upfront or monthly instalments made by Muslims undertaking the hajj pilgrim. Saudi Arabia controls the holy site of Mecca, with each country granted an annual quota. Indonesia is currently allocated 200,000 visits a year, which has seen the waiting list balloon to 18 years.