Legislators on the Parliamentary committee of trade, industry, and tourism have faulted the officials from the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) for failing to provide accountability of the funds used in the promotion of the country in the ongoing Dubai Expo.
The committee tasked the Board to account for the Sh360m spent during the Dubai 2020 Expo.
They were concerned that the officials used most of the money on their per diem and other consumables instead of causing action for tourism promotion.
The officials who had been led by the UTB Executive Director, Lilly Ajarova told the committee that they did not have an actual expenditure as they are yet to account for the funds, but assured MPs that it’s the budget they used.
She also revealed that they took a number of people to facilitate tourism engagements to kick start the recovery of the tourism sector post Covid19.
The meeting however came to an abrupt end after the committee learnt that the board had shared with them a revised budget instead of the actual expenditure.
The team was tasked to apologize to the Committee for presenting a budget instead of the actual expenditure of the Dubai Expo in promoting the country.
According to their accountability, Sh53m was spent on air tickets and visas, testing for Covid19 cost Sh28m, per diem for travelling delegation Sh83m, promotional materials which included kitenge bags, safari hats, gomesi and kanzus totalled Sh20.5m.
Other items included baskets for display which cost Sh3m, production of two short films Sh10m, 4 gift packs for panellists at Sh2m, the courier of promotional materials to UAE, Bahrain and Qatar Sh7.1m, travel trade in Abu Dhabi Sh68.5m, travel trade in Dubai Sh68.5m and the meeting for senior executives Sh12.4m.
The Dubai Expo was originally scheduled for October 20, 2020, to April 10, 2021, but was rescheduled over COVID-19 to October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022.
The theme of this year’s Expo 2021 Dubai is “connecting minds, creating the future,” while the sub-themes are “sustainability, opportunity and mobility”.
The areas under focus for the sustainability segment are industries, financial capital, governance, employment and education.
Mbarara City South Division MP and chair of the committee, Mwine Mpaka wondered what criteria the board used to select tour companies they took to the expo.
This follows concerns by some of the companies of irregularity in the criteria used.
The Buhweju County MP Francis Mwijukye was concerned that most of the funds were spent on other items which did not directly involve promoting the country.
The Mbarara city woman MP Rita Atukwasa demanded to know whether there was value for money. She was concerned that the money spent was equivalent to the output of the event.
Mpaka the chairperson tasked the team to return with full accountability.