Government has been called to quickly find a solution to the danger facing private tour companies which were put out of work for six months and are now facing bulging debts from their creditors.
The Uganda Tourism Board Chairman Daudi Migereko cautioned on Wednesday morning that the Tourism industry which has been the leading foreign exchange earner in the country is in deep trouble if government does not quickly intervene in the loan situation.
“We need to forestall the calamity that is likely to befall the industry as a result of banks,” warned Migereko.
“Because if you are a company and you are unable to service your loan every month because of the Covid19 lock down, and all of a sudden the bank forecloses on you… all these businesses are going to close; even a hotel like this one may collapse and the people who are going to take it over, there is no guarantee that they are going to run it well,” he said.
“A multiplication of such developments in different parts of the country is going to kill the tourism sector because this is where the indigenous people have put their hard earned money and savings.”
The former junior lands minister while speaking at the inauguration of the new UTB board at Mistyl Hotel in Kampala, said he himself had recently faced the wrath of banks of of a loan.
“Even me with a small loan, the banks have been harassing me. If they can harass me, how about the others who have no title at all?”
In recent weeks there have been reports of banks seizing their debtors’ collateral, the most recent being Housing Finance Bank, which took over and sold the property of a widow named Ida May Kwesiga. President Yoweri Museveni has since intervened in this matter.
Last week, a company called McDowel accused employees of Stanbic Bank of taking over their property which has been mortgaged for a 2017 loan.
Mr Migereko in his speech, advised government to provide incentives to banks to ensure so that they don’t turn against their debtors who are still struggling to get back on their feet as the Covid19 restrictions phase out.
“The banks can be allowed not to pay taxes for may be six months in lieu of the interest they are supposed to be demanding from those who borrowed from them, but have no cash flow because there was no business.”
At the event, Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Hon Tom Butime unveiled the new Board of Directors of UTB.
The new board is headed by Mr Migereko. Other members include Sulaiman Katende, Mrs Susan Muhwezi, Eddy Kirya, Yoagnesh Bigirwa, Vivian Lyazi, Paul Mwanja, Chemonges Sabila, Ronald Kaggwa, Hajj Soma Ayu and Mrs Lilly Ajarova who is the current UTB Chief Executive.