By Shamim Nabakooza
Government has cut Ministry of Tourism and its entities budget by 70% in the coming financial year from shillings 194 billion to shillings 89 billion.
The officials made the submissions while meeting the Trade, Tourism and Industry committee of parliament headed by Mbarara City South MP Mwine Mpaka. They were led by the Tourism minister Col (rtd) Tom Butime, the tourism Permanent Secretary Doreen Katusiime, Uganda Tourism Board CEO Lily Ajarova, among others.
In the allocations, Ministry of Tourism recurrent budget stands at shillings 7.15 billion for 2023/24 reduced by shillings 21.19 billion in the financial 2021/22. Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) will get shillings 21.35 billion. Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) will get shillings 1.90 billion. Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) will get shillings 4.21 billion.
Officials from Ministry of Tourism decried the budget cuts as detrimental, especially coming at a time when Uganda needs to promote itself as a travel destination.
They said the budget cuts could see UWA being forced to let go of some game rangers because under the new allocations, they cannot afford to pay their salaries. This in turn is likely to lead to the rise of poaching as game parks will not be adequately policed.
UWEC officials headed by David Kasumba told the legislators that the shillings 1.9 billion accorded to the centre is not enough to buy food for the animals which requires more than shillings 2.4 billion.
The unamused legislators wondered why the tourism ministry officials had not made a better case to Finance to secure more funding.
They joined the officials in decrying the reduced funding for a sector which contributes a lot to the coffers of the country int foreign exchange as well rising the country’s standing globally.
The minister of Tourism Col Butime warned that in case the tourism ministry fails to get more funding, this could lead to the collapse of the sector.