Dr. Bulaimu Kibirige, owner of Kampala’s Africana Hotel and long-serving chair of UHOA, was reportedly re-appointed as tourism sector representative on the Presidential Investors Round Table, a regular forum where President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni interacts with investors from all sectors of the economy to learn first-hand of the challenges they are faced with after coming to the Pearl of Africa to do business.
BMK, as he is often referred to among his friends, will have his work cut out as the tax burden as vastly increased after the last budget which heaped an 18 percent value added tax on upcountry hotels and safari lodges which were hitherto exempted from having to pay VAT. The net result was a significant rise in cost for Uganda’s safari packages for overseas tourists, making a dent into the project growth rate for tourism arrivals and leading in some cases to staff being laid off for lack of clients. UHOA under his leadership was also credited with a blanket exemption for building and construction materials and capital goods for hotels ahead of the 2007 Commonwealth Summit, which saved investors in the sector millions of US Dollars and kept tariffs down.
The current UHOA chair, Mrs. Susan Muhwezi, expressed on behalf of members, secretariat and the board her thanks to the president for re-appointing Mr. Kibirige to the PIRT.