Sad news emerged over the weekend when parliamentary committee investigations and inquiries revealed the ongoing default in subscription payments by Uganda for key international tourism and conservation bodies.
The UN World Tourism Organization is now owed nearly 700 million Uganda shillings (US$325,581), accumulated over many years and belying constant assurances to the tourism sector by government that they would pay up to restore full membership to this crucial body and resume participation in its organizations. Doing so would mean eligibility to receive assistance readily availed to the group of least-developed nations, which is ordinarily a great multiple of the annual subscriptions paid to the UN body.
In addition, it was discovered that major arrears have also accumulated for membership in the World Conservation Union and CITES, amounting to nearly 600 million Uganda shillings. Other continental bodies also claim backdated arrears. The Ministry of Tourism, Trade, and Industry predictably blamed the Ministry of Finance for not allocating them enough funding to meet international obligations of this nature, but this sort of excuse has been peddled to the parliamentary committee, the media, the tourism industry, and the public at large for too long now, without any visible action being taken.