Let me say that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago lead by our very esteemed and distinguished Prime Minister Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar continues to be very happy to support the issuance of visas for the pilgrims of Trinidad and Tobago who are desirous of fulfilling a fundamental pillar of Islam- i.e. to perform Hajj in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
I wish to also thank our diplomats from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who have come to ensure that everything runs smoothly for our pilgrims who will be making this very important journey in fulfillment of the pillars of Islam. I want to also take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Winston Dookeran and also the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Roodal Moonilal.
I also would like to express our gratitude to Minister Jack Warner who is the Minister responsible for National Security and immigration. Minister Warner has advised me that the fees for our diplomats from Saudi Arabia have been waived and therefore we are trying to make their entrance into Trinidad and Tobago very easy as they are trying to make and assist the entrance of our pilgrims to Saudi Arabia very easy.
We are very delighted as brother Harool Khan said, and the information communication technology platform has allowed them to upload all the visas instantaneously to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I want to take this opportunity to thank ASJA and all the members of the Hajj Council for being here today to ensure all our pilgrims are issued the visas. I am advised that even as early as Wednesday our first batch will be leaving Trinidad and Tobago to journey to Saudi Arabia.
On behalf of the Hajj Council and on behalf of my other Muslim colleagues in the Government and in the Cabinet, Minister Nizam Baksh, Minister Jamal Mohammed and MP for Princes Town, Ms. Nela Khan, I wish to thank the Hajj Council and our colleagues from Saudi Arabia.
As a Government I can say that we continue to support events and activities like these to ensure the lives of our pilgrims are made very easy as they go to perform Hajj.
Hajj can be very rigorous at times especially for people who are aged and could be tasking at times.The Hajj Council met with Caribbean Airlines and the then Minister of Transport Mr. Devant Maharaj.
Caribbean Airlines has been very supportive and very kind and they have agreed to have special check-in counters for the Hajj and also to facilitate the transport with the pilgrims on their return journey with the Holy water.
We look forward to assisting as far as possible to making the airport available in terms of areas for prayer before they leave and generally as much as possible that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and particularly as well, our Ministries who are involved and our Ministers of the Government will be here to assist and support this initiative.