Tourism Minister Mugarra in hot soup to explain delay in tourism development levy formulation
By Raymond Katwiire
Parliament – The State Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Martin Mugarra Bahinduka was on on Tuesday put on the spot to explain the delay in setting up a tourism development levy as per the Uganda Wild Life Authority Act.
This was during the parliamentary committee on trade, industry and tourism chaired by Mbarara city South MP Mwine Mpaka. Mugarra was appearing before the committee together with Doreen Katusiime, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities to present the ministerial policy statement for the financial year 2022/2023 worth Shs214b which they said is insufficient.
The tourism development levy being proposed by members is intended to tax tourists, hotels, safari lodges and other tourist sites as a means of increasing revenues for the ministry to stop decrying of under funding from government.
When pressed to explain the delay in setting up the tourism development fund Minister Mugarra and the Permanent Secretary Katusiime noted that they are still engaging with the Ministry of Finance to come up with a particular percentage of levy in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice in harmonising the levy with the existing law.
However, the chairperson of the committee Mwine Mpaka decided to put on hold the issue of tourism development levy until next week on Tuesday when they will invite the Ministry of Finance officials together with the Ministry of Tourism to handle the matter. On the contrary the minister had earlier proposed three months but he informed the minister that they were starting on the budget process.
For a new tax to be introduced, it must be done on time and the minister insisted on more time which he later amended to two months. This prompted the committee chairperson to ask members on their views into the matter, and they unanimously agreed to meet Finance and Tourism next Tuesday. This is a developing story, and we will keep you posted.