Connect with us

Economy

Diplomats say at least 550 pilgrims died during hajj, mostly Egyptians

Published

on

hajj pilgrims

Diplomats on Tuesday said at least 550 pilgrims died during the hajj, underscoring the gruelling nature of the pilgrimage which again unfolded in scorching temperatures this year.

At least 323 of those who died were Egyptians, most of them succumbing to heat-related illnesses, two Arab diplomats coordinating their countries’ responses told AFP.

“All of them (the Egyptians) died because of heat” except for one who sustained fatal injuries during a minor crowd crush, one of the diplomats said, adding the total figure came from the hospital morgue in the Al-Muaisem neighbourhood of Mecca.

At least 60 Jordanians also died, the diplomats said, up from an official tally of 41 given earlier on Tuesday by Amman.

The new deaths bring the total reported so far by multiple countries to 577, according to an AFP tally.

The diplomats said the total at the morgue in Al-Muaisem, one of the biggest in Mecca, was 550.

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and all Muslims with the means must complete it at least once.

The pilgrimage is increasingly affected by climate change, according to a Saudi study published last month that said temperatures in the area where rituals are performed were rising 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.72 degrees Fahrenheit) each decade.

Temperatures hit 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 Fahrenheit) at the Grand Mosque in Mecca on Monday, the Saudi national meteorology centre said.

– Heat stress –
Earlier on Tuesday, Egypt’s foreign ministry said Cairo was collaborating with Saudi authorities on search operations for Egyptians who had gone missing during the hajj.

While a ministry statement said “a certain number of deaths” had occurred, it did not specify whether Egyptians were among them.

Saudi authorities have reported treating more than 2,000 pilgrims suffering from heat stress but have not updated that figure since Sunday and have not provided information on fatalities.

At least 240 pilgrims were reported dead by various countries last year, most of them Indonesians.

AFP journalists in Mina, outside Mecca, on Monday saw pilgrims pouring bottles of water over their heads as volunteers handed out cold drinks and fast-melting chocolate ice cream to help them keep cool.

Saudi officials had advised pilgrims to use umbrellas, drink plenty of water and avoid exposure to the sun during the hottest hours of the day.

But many of the hajj rituals, including the prayers on Mount Arafat which took place on Saturday, involve being outdoors for hours in the daytime.

Some pilgrims described seeing motionless bodies on the roadside and ambulance services that appeared overwhelmed at times.

Around 1.8 million pilgrims took part in the hajj this year, 1.6 million of them from abroad, according to Saudi authorities.

– Unregistered pilgrims –
Each year tens of thousands of pilgrims attempt to perform the hajj through irregular channels as they cannot afford the often costly procedures for official hajj visas.

This places these off-the-books pilgrims at risk as they cannot access air-conditioned facilities provided by Saudi authorities along the hajj route.

One of the diplomats who spoke to AFP on Tuesday said that the Egyptian death toll was “absolutely” boosted by a large number of unregistered Egyptian pilgrims.

“Irregular pilgrims caused great chaos in the Egyptian pilgrims’ camps, causing the collapse of services,” said an Egyptian official supervising the country’s hajj mission.

“The pilgrims went without food, water, or air conditioning for a long time.”

They died “from the heat because most people had no place” to take shelter.

Earlier this month, Saudi officials said they had cleared hundreds of thousands of unregistered pilgrims from Mecca ahead of the hajj.

Other countries to report deaths during the hajj this year include Indonesia, Iran and Senegal.

Most countries have not specified how many deaths were heat-related.

Saudi Health Minister Fahd bin Abdul Rahman Al-Jalajel said on Tuesday that health plans for the hajj had “been successfully carried out”, preventing major outbreaks of disease and other public health threats, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

Health officials “provided virtual consultations to over 5,800 pilgrims, primarily for heat-related illnesses, enabling prompt intervention and mitigating the potential for a surge in cases,” SPA said.

Share this

Economy

China’s economy grew less than expected in second quarter: official data

By

Published

on

china gdp

China’s economy grew 4.7 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2024, official data showed Monday, less than analysts had expected.

“By quarter, the GDP for the first quarter increased by 5.3 percent year on year and for the second quarter 4.7 percent,” Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement.

The figures were much lower than the 5.1 percent predicted by analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Retail sales — a key gauge of consumption — also slowed to just two percent in June, the NBS said, down from 3.7 percent in May.

The world’s second-largest economy is grappling with a real estate debt crisis, weakening consumption, an ageing population and trade tensions with Western rivals.

Top officials are meeting in Beijing on Monday for a key plenum, with all eyes on how they might kickstart lacklustre growth.

Share this
Continue Reading

Economy

Concerns Mount Over Revenue Loss as South Asia’s Largest Land Port Curtails Operations

Published

on

truck eid

Bangladeshi officials are grappling with fears of revenue loss as the largest land port in South Asia, situated along the India-Bangladesh border, has ceased operations for 10 hours each day since July 11.

The Petrapole Land Port in India, crucial for trade between the two nations, has been shutting down from 6 PM to 8 AM daily, without providing any explanation for the closure, according to officials from the Benapole Land Authority in Bangladesh. This unexpected halt has left Bangladeshi authorities and traders in a state of uncertainty, as there is no indication of when the operations might resume to normalcy.

Industry insiders warn that this disruption could lead to a significant revenue shortfall at Benapole port due to decreased imports, adversely affecting Bangladeshi importers with delayed product deliveries.

Rezaul Karim, Director of Traffic at Benapole Land Port Authority, emphasized that while Benapole has been maintaining 24-hour operations, Petrapole’s recent restrictions are hindering cargo truck movements after evening.

“We have inquired with the Petrapole port authority about the reasons for halting trade services after evening. They responded that the matter is under discussion with relevant authorities,” Karim said.

Sultan Mahmud Bipul, Secretary of Benapole C&F Agent Association International Checkpost Affairs, highlighted the fiscal implications of this disruption. “Benapole port has set a revenue target of Tk6,705 crore from imported goods for the fiscal year 2024-25. If the 24-hour import facility remains discontinued, it will severely impact our revenue targets,” he noted.

Ziaur Rahman, General Secretary of Benapole Landport Importers and Exporters Association, pointed out the severe impact on trade, particularly with perishable goods. “Traders dealing with perishable food products are incurring the biggest losses due to this halt. The inability of goods trucks to enter after evening will widen the trade deficit,” Rahman remarked.

As the situation unfolds, the Benapole Land Port Authority and associated trade bodies continue to seek clarity and resolution from their Indian counterparts to mitigate the economic repercussions of this operational disruption.

Share this
Continue Reading

Economy

DCCI Urge Streamlined Tax Mechanisms for Enhanced Compliance, Reduced Costs

Published

on

DCCI

The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) has called on the government to simplify tax procedures to foster better comprehension, ease compliance, and minimize time, effort, and expenses.

“Corporate tax calculations should adhere to accounting standards, and compliant businesses should occasionally receive incentives,” stated Ashraf Ahmed, DCCI President, during a workshop on “Customs, VAT, and Income Tax Management” held at the DCCI office in the capital, according to a press release issued today.

The workshop was organized by DCCI to inform professionals from its member organizations about recent amendments in relevant laws as outlined in the 2024-25 budget.

Prominent Speakers and Insights
The event featured key presentations by Md Zakir Hossain, Commissioner of Customs, Excise, and VAT Commissionerate, Dhaka East; Snehasish Barua, FCA, Adviser to the DCCI Standing Committee on Customs, VAT, and NBR-related issues; and MBM Lutful Hadi, FCA, Vice-president of ICAB.

Ashraf Ahmed emphasized that automation would diminish discretionary measures and curb leakages. He asserted that compliant businesses encounter fewer hassles, adding that a transparent and accountable revenue system would expand the tax base while reducing complications.

Ahmed further highlighted the positive aspects of the VAT Act, Income Tax Act, and Customs Act, urging their practical application.

VAT Act Amendments and Revenue Goals
Md Zakir Hossain clarified that no major changes were introduced in the new VAT Act, but two procedural adjustments were made for the NBR. He acknowledged that to meet increased revenue collection targets, pressure on all taxpayers, including VAT-paying companies, would rise slightly. He encouraged businesses to familiarize themselves with the VAT Act to benefit from existing rebate facilities.

Snehasish Barua noted that the NBR’s revenue collection target for the current fiscal year is Tk4.8 lakh crore, a 17 percent increase from the previous year. He advocated for reducing import duties to stimulate industrialization and economic growth, stressing the need for a sustainable revenue system in light of the country’s economic conditions.

MBM Lutful Hadi urged the government to properly implement the new Customs Act, designed to lower business costs. He underscored the importance of ensuring a sustainable revenue framework.

Workshop Participation and Key Takeaways
Approximately 90 representatives from DCCI member organizations attended the workshop, gaining a clear understanding of the new rules and procedures to aid their respective entities in lawful calculations.

DCCI Vice-president Md. Junaed Ibna Ali, Directors Kamrul Hasan Tuhin, and M. Mosharraf Hossain were also present during the event.

Share this
Continue Reading