General News of Sunday, 19 February 2017
The Chairman of the National Hajj Board, Sheikh I.C. Quaye, says the Hajj Board has instituted measures to deal with the debt left it by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration.
The immediate past board confirmed in January 2017, that it left behind a debt of GHc23 million accrued from organizing the 2016 pilgrimage to Mecca.
In a Citi News interview, Sheikh I.C. Quaye said “the first thing that we trying to do is find money to be able to work through that. At the moment, we are in a fix because there is debt all over; in Saudi Arabia and here in Ghana as well.”
In the interim, he said the Board was not going to start litigation against persons complicit in the debt, although he assured such persons will be brought to book.
“The first thing is that, let us find the means by which we can open up. In fact, when I went there, I succeeded. They know me well, so we shall overcome,” Sheikh I.C. Quaye added.
It is as yet unclear how the NDC government accrued the debt, considering that about 452 prospective pilgrims did not make the trip, but were not refunded their monies.
Ahead of the Hajj pilgrimage in 2016, each pilgrim was expected to pay $3,500 or its equivalent of GHc11, 900.
Sources in government have told Citi News that, Flynas, formerly Nas Air, a domestic and international low-cost airline based in Saudi Arabia, is owed the highest amount out of the GHc 23 million debt.
Officials of the current government fear that if the debt is not cleared, the 2017 pilgrimage could be hampered, because the airline, which is the country’s first and only budget airline, will not airlift pilgrims.
The airline, which has its head office located at Al Salam Centre in Riyadh, denied Ghana’s neighbour, Togo, a similar privilege in 2016, due to that country’s failure to settle its debts.