MBARARA – President Museveni has commended renowned Kampala businessman Hajji Mutaasa Kafeero for setting up a magnificent state-of-the-art Hotel Triangle in Mbarara, saying this will boost and contribute to tourism and hotel industry in the country.
In a speech delivered at the opening of the 160-room five-star hotel that is located near Coca-Cola plant on the outskirts of Mbarara Town off Mbarara-Kampala road, the President said it will also provide market for the products produced by the surrounding communities.
“The decision you took was worthy. It was strategic because we have tourist attractions in the vicinity and the neighbouring districts. Our tourists and the country will be able to access luxurious accommodation,” Mr Museveni said a message read for him by Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, the minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities.
The President added that the hospitality industry is greatly improving as seen from last year when Uganda received 1.3 million tourists, who are expected to increase to 4 million by 2020. In his message, the President added that foreign exchange earnings from the tourism sector last year was $ 1.37 billion and it’s expected to increase to $2.7 billion by 2020.
Mr Museveni said government cherishes the role of the private sector and that it (government) will continue to nurture and support it as the engine for economic growth. “Government of Uganda is at the forefront to support ventures of this kind, we advocate for private sector-led growth and we have been able to offer a secure environment to enable these ventures to thrive. We wish to assure you that government support will continue to be strong to the private sector in Uganda,” Mr Museveni said.
Prof. Kamuntu said tourism is among the five identified drivers that will lead to economic transformation and propel Uganda to become middle-income economy by 2020. Others are transformation of agriculture, oil and gas, manufacturing and ICT business.
Hajji Kafeero appealed to government to give tax exemptions and tax holidays to local investors whose ventures have contributed greatly to the growth of the economy.
Hajji Kafeero, who owns hotels and arcades among other investments in Kampala, Jinja and Mbarara, said local investors don’t get business favours like tax exemptions which some of the Asians running not so big businesses get.
“You may be surprised to find that some of us are not given tax holidays and tax exemptions. I have invoices of Asian friends who have been supplying us things, they don’t pay tax; you find an invoice has ‘Income Tax Exempted,’ yet he has a little shop selling few things,” he said.