Parliament has directed government to avail additional funding of 10.3 billion shillings to the Tourism Sector to among others enable the hosting of the 45th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee Conference.
This followed the adoption of the Budget Committee report on the financial year 2020/2021 budget framework paper in a plenary session chaired by Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah.
Out of the proposed budget of 39.6 trillion Shillings, government maintained the Tourism Sector Budget at Shillings 193.7 billion.
In the report, Patrick Isiagi Opolot, the Vice-Chairperson of the Budget Committee noted that there was no budget allocation for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee Conference yet Cabinet had approved a request for Uganda to host it in May 2021.
“The Committee is responsible for implementation of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972. The World Heritage Committee meeting is held once a year and has representatives from 21 of the State Parties to the Convention elected by their General Assembly,” reads part of the committee report.
According to the Budget Committee, hosting of the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) Conference in Kampala will provide an opportunity for Uganda’s conservators and heritage practitioners, policymakers and researchers to foster a free exchange of ideas and provide an appropriate platform to discuss and disseminate new concepts and advance the preservation and promotion of heritage in Uganda, regionally and internationally.
The conference is also expected by MPs to position Uganda as a destination of choice after successfully hosting big events such as Common Wealth of Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM), Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC). Isiagi says that the expected benefits from the Conference amount to Shillings 8.5 billion (US Dollars 2.3million).
The Committee also recommended that the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) should be allocated Shillings 3 billion to enable the board coordinate participation of the tourism sector at the upcoming Dubai Expo 2020.
Isiagi told Parliament that participation in the expo is entirely unfunded with a funding gap of Shillings 3 billion yet countries in the region like Burundi and Kenya have allocated US Dollars 2 million and 10 million respectively for the expo because of the importance they attach to it.
Meanwhile, MPs approved a recommendation that an inventory of all museums and heritage sites is developed and a national plan for development, rehabilitation and maintenance is developed.
Parliament directed that the government provides Shillings 1 billion to secure land titles for all cultural heritage sites as well as rehabilitation, research and maintenance of the cultural heritage sites.
“Museums and monuments are another tourism product whose potential has not been exploited yet. Uganda has many museums and heritage sites whose role in preserving cultural heritage and promoting national identity cannot be under-estimated. They are spread across the country in districts like Kampala, Mayuge, Napak, Moroto, Agaro, Patiko, Lamoji, Soroti and Kotido,” said Isiagi.
He said that in developed economies, museums are at the centre of development and are maximized to generate revenue but Uganda’s museums are not well maintained and publicized yet they have potential of generating local revenue and foreign exchange for the country.