6000 Maldivians eligible to utilize pension funds for Hajj pilgrimage
Maldives Pension Administration Office (MPAO) stated on Wednesday that at present, over 6000 Maldivians qualify to deduct Hajj expenses from their accumulated pension funds.
Late February, the parliament passed an amendment to Pension Act that allows the Pension Fund to be used to finance Hajj pilgrimage. According to the new amendment, the procedure to issue the money from the Pension Fund must be implemented within three months after the bill has been ratified.
As such, MPAO has stipulated that, if a citizen has a retirement balance exceeding MVR 336, 000 and has never before undertaken the pilgrimage, then up to 50 percent of the one’s Retirement Savings Account may be utilized for the purpose of fulfilling the mandatory religious duty.
The Hajj is prescribed for all Muslim adults physically and financially capable of the undertaking, to be carried out at least once in one’s lifetime.
The administration revealed forthcoming plans to provide those eligible with the opportunity to view and manage their funds accordingly, adding that however, the identities of said persons would not be publicized.
Members of the public criticized MPAO over the minimum balance required, offering the argument that, in a limited period of time, such a large sum could only be amassed by persons earning large remuneration, effectively defeating the purpose the allowance is meant to serve.
The utilization of pension funds for Hajj pilgrimage is one of the best received out of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s 100-day pledges.