By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho
President of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has pledged tax exemptions to the newly constructed Hotel Africana in Moroto town, Moroto district in Karamoja region.
“The issue of tax exemption is no problem. Any tax exemptions you need, we shall give you and tax you indirectly. When you build such a facility and you know Ugandans like beer so much, we will tax the beer you sell. It is not a big problem,” Museveni said.
The President was on Friday speaking as he took time off his campaign trail to open Hotel Africana in Moroto town.
Museveni applauded the proprietor, Hajji Muwanga Kibirige for being one of the African pioneers of hotel business in Kampala but also the five star facility in Karamoja region.
“Whenever I used to come here, I saw a bush. I am happy with this facility. I congratulate you for being a good entrepreneur.”
The President said with the availability of electricity, government will now work on extending the tarmacked road to Kaabong, Kotido and Kidepo to ensure smooth rides for tourists.
He noted that government would inject more money into the Uganda Development Bank so that the same can be used by investors in the manufacturing, agriculture and services sectors which help in creating employment but also in paying taxes.
According to Patricia Ojangole, the Uganda Development Bank Executive Director, they supported the project with a loan as part of their efforts to support the tourism sector.
“Our bias in tourism has been in the development of accommodation in the designated national parks as there is a shortage and in the rural upcountry places that demonstrate viability such as Moroto,”Ojangole said.
She noted that they will continue supporting players in the tourism sector to ensure they stay afloat following the pandemic that hit the economy hard.
According to Hajji Muwanga Kibirige, the proprietor, the project started in 2015 but met a number of challenges that stalled its construction for almost five years.
“The soil texture of this region which keeps moving meant there was a lot of work that needed to be done to mitigate the moving ground problems. It cost us a lot of time and funds which stretched our budget,”Kibirige said in a speech read for him by one of the shareholders in the business.
He noted that building materials had to be procured from Kampala and a lot of money was spent on transport and this he noted pushed high the costs for construction.
The company Managing Director Haruna Kalule Kibirige said the $8 million (approximately shs29billion) project has 70 rooms, two restaurants, conference halls, boardrooms and a fully-fledged commercial kitchen.
“We are targeting tourists to Kidepo national park and NGOs that operate in this area. We chose Moroto because we have been engaged in the construction of other projects around and noticed there is a gap in accommodation,” Haruna Kibirige said.