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20 Percent Slash

Budget reading confirms cuts for Uganda tourism ministry

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN  Jun 17, 2010

UGANDA (eTN) - The target="_blank">Uganda Ministry of Tourism, Trade, and Industry has indeed suffered a major budget cut when the Minister for Finance announced a reduction from last year’s allocation of 47.8 billion Uganda shillings to 41.5 billion. This constitutes a 13+ percent slash and if adding inflationary trends of last year, rises to about a 20 percent cut in real terms, a major challenge for an already stretched ministry. This leaves hopes in tatters that dues for international organizations – some of them in arrears for many years – may be paid to give Uganda full access to services like from the UN’s World Tourism Organization UNWTO, from where Uganda could receive training and marketing support worth a substantial multiple of the actual dues paid.

While in general the business community was satisfied with the draft (parliament must approve the budget to make it a reality) and in particular the absence of any major tax rises or new taxes, the tourism industry will be left to ponder how their line ministry will cope with the demands not just from the tourism sector but at the same time the sister portfolios of trade and industry.

Across the border in Kenya, the mood in comparison was a little more upbeat, as their tourist board was allocated some 650 million Kenya shillings in addition to which a further 800 million Kenya shillings were granted to the Kenya Tourist Development Corporation to help in financing new projects for the sector. This figure is up from last year by 600 million Kenya shillings, underscoring the fact that government there has maybe begun to understand the positive impact of tourism to the national economy, through investments, foreign exchange earnings, and job retention and creation. The lobbying of the tourism industry proved to be effective in securing a greater share of the nearly 1 trillion Kenya shillings overall budget.

Added allocations for road constructions, which will benefit the routes to and from the main game parks, was also applauded by the private sector. Tourism Minister Najib Balala, however, decried the overall reduction in his ministry’s budget by about 150 million Kenya shillings during the formal launch of the Utalii coast campus and urged his colleague in the Ministry of Finance to review this decision in coming weeks, as the draft budget goes to parliament for debate.

Budget reading confirms cuts for Uganda tourism ministry
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