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Committee blasts ministry over tourism revenue loss

17th February 2012
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PAC chairman John Cheyo

The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has blamed Natural Resources and Tourism ministry officials for poor fee collection methods, leading to a drop in tourism sector revenue from 77bn/- in 2010 to 52bn/- last year.

The censure comes after the Controller and Audit General inspected the sector’s financial accounts and gave the ministry a qualified certificate.

The PAC chairman John Cheyo said for the past three years, it consecutively received a qualified certificate.

He said it was intriguing that while the number of tourists coming into the country has increased, revenue from the sector has been dropping.

“The tourists have been paying a lot of money but revenue has been dropping… this is an indication that there is something wrong in the ministry,” Cheyo said.

Blaming the ministry for its failure to collect revenue from the hotel sector, Cheyo said this is one of the factors which led to the drop in income and government revenue.

Cheyo accused ministry officials of colluding with unscrupulous hoteliers to evade payment of tax.

The ministry lacked reliable records on tourists entering the country, he said, adding that this has also provided a loophole for revenue loss.

He observed that in 2010 donors disbursed 26bn/- while in 2011 they provided 10bn/- for project implementation, but the no viable projects have been accomplished.

He said the reason why the donors have not disbursed any money to the ministry this year, is because of its inefficiency in supervising projects and ensuring that tourism sector was allowed to grow to its full potential.

Cheyo said Natural Resources and Tourism ministry does not abide by the Finance Act as it does not submit all the revenue to the Treasury according to the CAG report.

The report, he said, shows that some of the funds it collects often remain within the ministry although their use is not recorded.

He advised the ministry officials to sit with the CAG to trace the whereabouts of the funds so as to avoid getting another qualified certificate.

For her part, Natural Resources and Tourism ministry permanent secretary Maimuna Tarish said the ministry lacked an electronic system to coordinate revenue collection from different sources, a factor contributing to the revenue loss.

She admitted that carelessness was another factor causing revenue loss, promising to take measures to put things in order.

Tarish said the ministry will set up the electronic system to track records for tourists in the coming financial year.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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