Ugandan hotels have decried over taxation, saying it is driving them out of business. Susan Muhwezi who was re-elected Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA), said right now, hotels pay about 12 different types of taxes and levies including local service tax, hotel tax (license), conference license among others.
According to Muhwezi, multiple taxations remains a serious challenge to the industry, especially those in upcountry locations.
"Much as we have lobbied and brought this concern to the attention of President Museveni, nothing has been done and the government continues to introduce new taxes and levies on the industry every year,” she said.
Jean Byamugisha, the UHOA executive director, said hotels are also subjected to an annual payment of Shs 4m, which under the copyright law grants them permission to play music and videos produced from local artists. Other taxes, he said include pay as you earn, VAT, income tax, rental tax and hostation tax for those in national parks as well as the pending doubling of tourism fees.
"These taxes are bogging down the industry and many of them are duplicating each other," Byamugisha said.
UHOA elected its new board members that will serve for a period of two years (2019-2021). The election that took place during the Annual General Meeting held last week on Monday, at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel was also graced by Hon Godfrey Kiwanda Ssuubi, the state minister Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities.
Vice-chair under the new leadership lineup is Bonifence Byamukama of Hippo Hill Lodge while Cephas Birungyi of Cephas Inn (Kabale) and veteran hotelier Twaha Lukwanzi of Tal Cottages retained their posts of general secretary and treasurer respectively.
UHOA is a trade and lobbying organization that includes almost all of the nation's hotels, lodges, motels, B&Bs, inns, and camps among its members. It has over 450 members (hotels). Others on the new board of member include Hajji Haruna Kibirige, Yogi Birigwa, Adrine Kobusingye and ambassador Ibrahim Mukiibi representing the central region.
The eastern region will be represented by, Daudi Migereko Jnr, Andrew Atim and Alex Ojambo while the north has Kasujja Muwanga Kibirige and Santa Lukone. The west will be represented by Dona Mushabe and Aggrey Twejukye while Ssese Islands has Daniel Mwanje. Jean Philippe Bittencourt, the Sheraton Kampala Hotel general manager joined the board as UHOA chairperson’s special appointee replacing Amos Wekesa.
Among the key achievements Muhwezi listed at the AGM was the growth of membership, training for UHOA hotel staff as well as an increase in income from Shs 124 million in 2016 to Shs 224m in December 2018.
Kiwanda promised to advocate for tax holidays for the hotels. He said hotels are the biggest foreign exchange earners and the biggest employer in the tourism sector.
“Hotels are the sitting rooms and bedrooms of every country. That is how important these kinds of associations are. Someone will never forget where they slept each time they visit a country no matter how small or big or dirty a room is,” said Kiwanda.